The Girl Booker

The Girl Booker

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Book In A Day

I started and finished The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright today. Reading an entire book in one day is odd; I obviously loved it or I would've left it to do something else, but I haven't had the chance to think about it while not reading it as I usually would. So I feel as though I have potentially diminished the experience.

Why did I like this book? Well, I suppose because I could completely believe the central character. Some elements of her were utterly alien to me, but enough of her thoughts and history and character were like me for that not to matter. Or perhaps to make it an even better read. Since I was reading a slightly off kilter version of myself, I didn't know what I was going to do next. The character was nice enough (or perhaps enough like me) that I felt sad for her in her failings rather than angry or contemptuous.

Last night I finished The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. I think Yates' idea about the two sisters in his story being doomed from childhood tainted my reading of The Forgotten Waltz and I couldn't help feeling it was a little the same with Enright's two sisters. Two examples of a "free spirit" in successive relationships who never feels secure, juxtaposed against the safe suburban sister who is seemingly trapped, perhaps left me reading more into The Forgotten Waltz than I was supposed to.

In any case, Yates is stunningly good. I find his writing heartbreaking in a very quiet yet immensely profound way. His character's whole lives spin (usually to unravel) on small moments and seemingly inane events. As a reader, it makes you feel safe, because you are so far from being so lost. But he is careful to make it real enough that the safety feels just a bit fragile. I know I have not given any meaningful details of The Easter Parade but it feels too much like I would be destroying a spider web covered in glinting drops of rain.

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