Madeleine's Reviews > Belles: A Play in Two Acts and Thirty-Nine Phone Calls

Belles by Mark Dunn
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Apr 05, 09

bookshelves: the-world-actually-is-a-stage, head-in-the-clouds-nose-in-a-book, 2009, our-libeary
Read on April 20, 2009

Wow, this was a surprising little treat. Having read two of Mark Dunn's novels ("Ella Minnow Pea" -- which is one of my all-time favourite pieces of prose ever -- and "Ibid") and enjoying them thoroughly, I bought this play on a whim. And I'm quite glad I did.

First of all, Mr. Dunn is pretty great at writing female characters. His writing is precise, creatively layered and almost flowery, which makes for a literary environment conducive to the masterful show-don't-tell development of three-dimensional and amusingly engaging female protagonists. He also has a way of glossing over the less-appealing foibles peculiar to women (because, come on gals, you know we're all a little imperfect in all the same ways) and, instead, infusing his leading ladies with a very palpable kindness and wryly intellectual humour. This isn't to say they're entirely without fault -- the six sisters wouldn't be believable characters if that were the case -- but their individual shortcomings and familial squabbles are highlighted just enough to help the plot move along while contributing to the subtle exposure of a backstory.

Secondly, Dunn's a writers' writer. His command of the English language is nothing short of intimidating, and he knows how to paint a beautiful, vivid image with his arsenal of ten-dollar words and awesomefabulous metaphors.

Yep. Mark Dunn's just as solid of a playwright as he is a novelist -- that is to say, a really, really great modern writer whose works should be required reading for humanity.
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Reading Progress

04/03/2009 page 38
42.7%

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