John Crowley's masterful Little, Big is the epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood - not found on any map - to marry Daily Alice Drinkwater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It...more
As you can probably imagine, I've come up rather short on all counts.
How do you talk about a book which seems to either redefine or cause to shrivel all the normal descriptors one attaches to works of fiction?
I mean, strictly speaking, you'd have to call this an epic fa...more
Some people like it, as you can tell by other reviews: the language is often quite clever, it ends on a semi-strong note, and it plays with myth in some interesting ways. These are all good things.
Bad things? Well, the cha...more
"Don't be sad. It's all so much larger than you think."
Smoky Barnable lives in the City and thinks of himself as anonymous. His father is dead and his step-siblings have forgotten him. He has no friends at all until he meets George Mouse who introduces him to his strange family. Smoky falls in love with one of George's cousins, Daily Alice Drinkwater, and he moves upcountry to the Drinkwater estate called Edgewood. At his wedding he meets the Drinkwater fa...more
So imagine a tangled ball of wool with which you are following a strand as it winds its way in around the other strands, in and out of the tangle until eventually you find the other end of the thread, somewhere not too far from where you started.
The narrative flows a bit like that. It nips back and forwards in time, hops from one character to another, spanning several generations of a sprawling family as we...more
This story is so big and rambling that I won't even try to describe it. But I do have a few observations.
This is a serious adult...more
Whew!! This is my first re- read of this book. and I'd say I have missed a lot on my first read! Which is strange coz I usually pay attention to details, but for some reason something slipped! Tsk tsk!
Anyway, if you have not read this yet, you miss half, no scratch that! You won't really miss anything. Except perhaps that you would not be able to enjoy THAT REALLY GOOD book in the fantasy genre.
The language,the prose, the tensi...more
After seeing reviews of the book on here, I picked it up with great anticipation. Mag...more
The only book I can compare it to at the moment is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but that's more of a subject matter thing. The writing is very rich and detailed. While I was reading it, I thought it would be the best book I read that year. Whatever...more
The jacket copy sounded really intriguing, but I didn't get halfway through it. The biggest problem I had with this book was that I felt tried far too hard to be Airy and Phantasmagorical and Mystically Vague and forgot that a plot was actually necessary. It wanders and doesn't actually get anywhere, the prose was overstuffed, and not a single character actually caught my attention. I was disappointed, beause it was a very interestin...more
But I think maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for that type of book when I read it. I find images and ideas from the book coming to me months later - it's obviously made an impression. So it's scheduled for a re-read, and re-evaluation.
I'm putting this in the "read" file and cheating about it as I have not finished it...still at whatever mark I was back when. I go back to it, I'll have to start at page one, my guess...for whatever reason I simply laid this one aside and have not returned....
this looks to be a good story......"that was the feeling. it was as though she stirred him with cornstarch. he had begun to thicken."
yes. thicken. crowley's voice...or, the voice of the distant narrator, is unique. although too i am reminde...more
The most readily evident characteristic of this book is the beautiful, almost musical prose that weaves throughout the telling of this “Tale”. The world created is seductive and at times dreamlike. The characters are so well introduced and sustained that you feel that they are good friends, even as you know their weaknesses.
For these reasons only, this book is worth the effort. But other reasons also abound.
Please, read this bo...more
There are many paralells that can be drawn between the two novels: a fictional place isolated from the rest of the world, main characters as participants in events and rituals that provide a shadowy reflection of a larger background story, and an unexplained apocalyptic catastrophe that has led to the collapse of modern society.
In each novel, imagery and conversat...more
And from then on the world was as it would not otherwise have been.
This is a tender and endless world of a story, a comfort and a wonder.
And i don't feel gooey about this, or wistful about everybody reading it.
It is not so much perfect as simply perfect for you or not at all.
Little, Big is giant in scope -- it tells the stories of several generations in this family and of the people they fall in love with (though it never loses its continuity or momentum). It's a fantasy novel, too, but the fairy tale elements mostly serve, I think, as a way to communicate both the enchantment and the burden of being part of a...more
John Crowley was born in Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942; his father was then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after colle...more