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)
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)
Oh, god. This book has just about destroyed me. I know it's a polarising one; so many readers I respect hate it. But I couldn't put it down, and now,...moreOh, god. This book has just about destroyed me. I know it's a polarising one; so many readers I respect hate it. But I couldn't put it down, and now, days after I finished it in a daze, I still feel like all of it happened to me; I wake up dreaming about it and scenes from it come to me randomly in the middle of the day and fill me with an ineffable sadness. The writing is exquisite, the terrible, paralysing repression of the protagonists rendered both cruelly and yet with infinite sympathy. It is all so real, so REAL, and the final argument between Edward and Florence had me sobbing because yes, that is how people hurt each other. A quarrel about sex turns into a quarrel about money because both, ultimately, are about power, and how quickly one kind of power game shape-shifts into another! Nobody can or will say what they mean. You reach a turning point after which hurting the other person becomes its own terrifying pleasure. And one particular sentence on the last page made me close my eyes for five minutes before I could continue. I won't say which one it is here, but you might be able to guess if you know me and the book.(less)
It took me a few chapters to warm to the prose, which felt a bit clumsy at first -- like big grey blocks the writer kept dropping on my foot -- but as...moreIt took me a few chapters to warm to the prose, which felt a bit clumsy at first -- like big grey blocks the writer kept dropping on my foot -- but as I grew to love the protagonist, I came to see the prose as an essential part of him, an expression of his tortured thought patterns. Which is interesting because the narrative is in shifting close 3rd-person points of view, but Lewis's voice -- or what I came to see as Lewis's voice, angry and raw and intense, colours the whole thing. In the end I couldn't not love Lewis or his story; this isn't a perfect book, but it has Passion, and for that I'm always willing to close one eye to other flaws. It made me cry, and I can never resist a book that does that.
This book did make me feel like I was waiting, so maybe it did what it set out to do. But it wasn't a good kind of waiting. It was the kind of waiting...moreThis book did make me feel like I was waiting, so maybe it did what it set out to do. But it wasn't a good kind of waiting. It was the kind of waiting I used to do when I would have to go to some government office with my parents and they would make me sit still and behave myself, and I would feel a terrible physical ache in unmentionable parts of my body from having to contain so much desire to fidget. Actually, that sounds a lot more exciting than this book was.(less)