laura's Reviews > Lost
by Gregory Maguire, Douglas Smith
I've never thought of myself as someone who enjoys ghost stories, or who wonders about hauntings. However, I was enthralled by the device in this novel. Haunting, as it turns out, is an awesome metaphor vehicle (duh, Laura), and of course I loved it in Maguire's hands.
The character of Winnie is immediately engaging, even though she's batshit from the beginning. A protagonist who's eccentric and unpredictible just for the sake of it is a work of fiction's greatest self-indulgence, in my opinion, so I found myself wondering why I couldn't stop reading about this train wreck of a woman. Of course, her actions feed into larger and larger tributaries of motivation. Her whole story doesn't come out until the end, which is as it should be, since this is when Winnie herself owns up to her past -- heck, even owns up to needing to own up. But by revealing a little at a time, Maguire keeps one (this one, at least) eagerly reading.
The beauty of this narrative is that the reader's awareness follows the protagonist's; we don't know what she won't acknowledge. We are just as distracted as she is by her strange immediate situation, with its mysterious disappearances, noises in the chimney stack, and dodgy neighbors. When her cousin orders her to face up to the reality of her life, we readers are just as confused as Winnie, wondering, what the hell? What could be more important than a violent, possessed cat burrowing through her apartment building?
But even Winnie criticizes her own fixation on fantasy. She constantly orders herself to look at the real world and its unfantastical messiness. She can't do it, though, and with her we slip into strange reverie after strange reverie.
It turns out, the haunting Winnie comes to fully embody lets her face and deal with her past. The ghost in question tells an ancient story of loss that parallels her own buried one. Giving herself over to the ghost and exhuming its story brings Winnie back into herself. All of which I might say sounds a little trite, but I had way too much fun getting through it with Winnie to complain. To boot, Maguire's style and sense of narrative seem more coherent and expressive with this fully-fractured protagonist than in all the other books I've read by him (which... are many).
Loved this one, will be thinking about it for a while.
||0.29%||"must... read... all... maguire..."|
||17.06%||"Ooooh, a novel about a novelist researching a book about a novelist! Maguire, you cheeky devil, you're lucky I adore you!"|
||47.06%||"How does Maguire make good protagonists out of people who completely lack direction? magic."|