In sum: unlike most fans, I think Trevor's novels are even more brilliant than his short fiction. But this was still pretty amazing. A lesson in compassion. Trevor illuminates the insides of his characters' heads with the brightest of lights, but never judges.(less)
Well, I read this slowly, like Michael said (I read everything slowly anyway), but I'm still not sure about it. The opening is absolutely one of the m...moreWell, I read this slowly, like Michael said (I read everything slowly anyway), but I'm still not sure about it. The opening is absolutely one of the most brilliant passages of writing I've ever read, and there was no way I was not reading this book after that. I keep going back and reading it again and again like it's a poem. But then... Scibona takes some risks I've never seen before; there are very few books about which one can say, wow, this really is doing something NEW, and I think this is one of them. For that reason alone, I'd recommend this to any writer. But some of those risks paid off, for me, and others just left me puzzled/cold. I still don't quite buy the connections and attachments between even the main characters (let alone the shadowy minor figures -- Gary? Eddie? Who? -- that drift into the narrative three quarters of the way through the book); it seemed that even the strongest of attachments tended to be *explained* in philosophical terms rather than demonstrated. Often I found myself wondering how these diverse characters could all be having these very similar abstract thoughts about the nature of being and matter and memory. And I felt a little starved for a good story in the end -- there *is* a story underneath everything, a story we keep coming back to and see from several different perspectives, but it didn't sustain me, and I just wanted to spend more time with Rocco the baker of breads with and without seeds (what an amazing line!).
But yes, I do feel like my mind has been expanded by this reading experience, and maybe it just needs to settle before I can assess its full effects on me. The writing is brilliant in many places, full of pithy summations of simple truths I had never seen articulated before. And while I wasn't sold on some of Scibona's attempts to get right inside his characters' roiling heads (Mrs. Marini's conversations with the figure who is possibly her dead husband, for instance? Um...), some of them were breathtaking, as with the teenage boy, Ciccio. Amazing stuff in those chapters, utterly convincing.(less)
Actually I'd give this three and a half stars, but that's not an option here, IS IT, GOODREADS? Full review forthcoming on Fiction Writers Review, if...moreActually I'd give this three and a half stars, but that's not an option here, IS IT, GOODREADS? Full review forthcoming on Fiction Writers Review, if Anne still wants it....(less)
Amazing use of dialect as poetry -- I would recommend this for anyone interested in global Englishes. The narrator's voice -- arresting, heartbreaking...moreAmazing use of dialect as poetry -- I would recommend this for anyone interested in global Englishes. The narrator's voice -- arresting, heartbreaking, funny -- proves that local versions of English can convey social nuances that standard English cannot when it comes from outside the culture in question. My only quibble is that sometimes, particularly when trying to evoke high drama, the language/pace got a tiny bit repetitive. But I'd give this four and a half stars if I could, and can't wait to read more of Lovelace. Thank you, Lowell!(less)