Libby's Reviews > Desperate Characters

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
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Feb 27, 08

Read in January, 2008

"The short novel tends to have a history of containing quietism on the one hand and hysteria on the other."

You said it, Charlie Baxter!

Although we will be reading Paula Fox's The Widow's Daughter for Charlie's class, I was not alerted to either his interest in Fox or the short novel when I set out to read Desperate Characters. I kind of wish that I was reading it now though, given my current immersion in this question of narrative efficiency. Sigh.

This book is strange, short, quiet, and hysterical. I don't mean funny, by the by, I mean that it is beset by hysteria. The novel's focus is extremely narrow; it elapses over the course of one week, occupies two limited settings, and revolves around one central incident. It examines, quite unsettlingly, the push pull between intimacy and isolation, order and entropy, gentrification and urbanization. The novel gets away with its preoccupation with such "big" themes by the act of its smallness.

Excellent.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Hallie (new) - added it

Hallie Dude I totally think that is Courtney Love's grandmother, right?


Libby Hallie wrote: "Dude I totally think that is Courtney Love's grandmother, right?"

By the way, I never responded to this, but you are absolutely correct.



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