Jason Pettus's Reviews > The Cranes Dance

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey
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Feb 29, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: character-heavy, contemporary
Read from February 29 to July 05, 2012

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

There's nothing inherently wrong with a novel concentrating on the minutiae of one particular industry or type of job, and in fact sometimes this is what novels do best -- think of Moby Dick or The Jungle, for example -- but it does mean that you're risking turning off big portions of your potential audience if they end up not really caring that much about the specific topic that book is discussing, and if you don't give them enough reason to be fascinated by the topic anyway. And here, unfortunately, Meg Howrey's look at being a young, full-time professional dancer in New York City is just too full of meaningless details and bereft of larger conclusions to have had much of an impact on me, certainly beautiful and entertaining at many moments but with those moments too few and far between. Containing a level of detail about the mundanities of a typical dancer's day that I myself found really intolerable at times, it'll be a wet dream for anyone who specifically wants to read about such a subject; and its charming anecdotes about gaggles of brave yet scared teenage roommates having the biggest adventures of their lives in a magically romantic midtown Manhattan absolutely bodes well for Howrey's long-term career, and shows that she has a real winner in her in the future when she weds this attention to detail with a stronger story premise. A limited recommendation, only to those interested in reading a genteel take on the daily life of a working ballerina, but those people should go fairly crazy over this enjoyable sleeper.

Out of 10: 8.2, or 9.2 for ballet fans
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