Friday, October 24, 2014


There most be some other possibility than death or lifelong penance, said the Ellen Ward of my dream, that woman I hate and fear.  I am sure she meant some meeting, some intersection of lines; and some cowardly, hopeful geometer in my brain tells me it is the angle at which two lines prop each other up, the leaning-together from the vertical which produces the false arch.  For lack of a keystone, the false arch may be as much as one can expect in this life.  Only the very lucky discover the keystone.  
 So I finally finished Angle of Repose the other night..  devouring the last 100 pages in a single, delicious, sitting.  As this review said:

There are some books you finish in a kind of hush, as if holding your breath to avoid disturbing the beauty of each successive moment. They carry you with them as they penetrate to the core of life and leave you overcome, not by their perfection (because novels, like people, are never perfect), but with the sense that you’re in the presence of greatness. There are very, very few novels that can deliver this sensation. “Angle of Repose” is one of them.
And that's exactly right.  I've read it in sustained bursts, over a fairly long period of time, but it's soaked into my thinking.  I can picture Lyman.  Susan.  Oliver.  Care about them.  I was quite taken by Lyman - how his character changes over time.  The dive into his life and relationships at the end.  That dream sequence..  And by the quiet desperation, over decades, for Susan and Oliver.

The use of the letters was brilliant.  This book was described to me as an illustration of how to do a family history "right." And man, is it ever. The texture, the depth, the interplay between past and present. I need to come back to Stegner..  there are worlds here.

Now on to Ben Lerner's 10:04...  

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