There is a ponderousness to this novel that isn't immediately apparent while first reading it. Ozick's prose is terribly light -- she dances from mood...moreThere is a ponderousness to this novel that isn't immediately apparent while first reading it. Ozick's prose is terribly light -- she dances from mood to mood and point to point throughout the 250 pages, like the scherzo she allows Leo to witness in Iris. And yet beneath words that trip and dance across the page, there is a heaviness. There is little action in this story, with it's many interwoven deceptions and the long weeks of waiting, with conversations that are dreaded and truths that are half-glimpsed in a slanted bit of light by those who haven't the power of observation to capture it, or a strong enough sense of self versus other to understand it. There is no complete tying up of ends at the close of the plot; instead the different strands are braided, twisted, and jerked about, and then allowed to float free as the winds wish to take them.
I found the reading experience to be pleasurable (I did read it over the course of a single day, mostly in one sitting), but also dissatisfying and unsettling. The latter is not due to any flaws in the story or the writing thereof, but in the way that the telling opened my mind to wonder about long-abandoned plans (that I hadn't considered worthy of thought in years), or opportunities that were missed from inaction. For example, the shift in perspective entirely to Paris after chapter 42, in which Bea sends a pair of letters to Margaret and Marvin provide only the barest gloss of detail from Julian, Iris, and Lili while laying the burden of choice fully at Marvin's feet, is absolutely masterful. I was giving only a third of my attention to Iris and Phillip; a small portion kept wondering about the resolution to come, but the greater portion couldn't help but sift my own memories for recollections of when I might have passed on responsibility for some unwanted, unearned, and unhappy task. Ozick's touch was too light to inspire a genuine "sit in a corner and think" mood, but her material was sympathetic in a way that forced me into a kind of quickly paced self-reflection, that held step with the cadence of story progression.
Overall, I found Foreign Bodies to be witty, funny, breakneck, and biting. Recommended when you want to devote your mind to a story that inspires you to think and feel beyond where its pages will lead you of their own accord. (less)
A fabulous reimagining of a seldom-mentioned myth.
I'm usually put-off by first person narratives, but within two paragraphs, Beutner drew me in, givi...moreA fabulous reimagining of a seldom-mentioned myth.
I'm usually put-off by first person narratives, but within two paragraphs, Beutner drew me in, giving Alcestis the opportunity to share the only thing she actually owns: her voice, and the truth she can otherwise refuse to share.(less)
I first read The Clan of the Cave Bear in high school, during a phase where I was fascinated with paleontologic fiction. I continued to read each of t...moreI first read The Clan of the Cave Bear in high school, during a phase where I was fascinated with paleontologic fiction. I continued to read each of the subsequent novels, though The Plains of Passage tested my patience and The Shelters of Stone underscored the great authorial sin of giving too much of the story away at the beginning, and then having a beloved character of action play Hamlet for 500 pages. I've placed a hold on The Land of Painted Caves at nypl.org; when my current place in line (position 260) gives way to number one, I hope to say that reading the conclusion will be worth it.(less)