I am reading The Nix. I put it on my Amazon wishlist because I read a review that compared it to a Dickens novel, fat and entrancing with interleaving storylines, and I am a sucker for fat entrancing novels with interleaving storylines. My mother gave it to me for Christmas but it took me a few weeks to start. It's a big book.
At first I did not think it was AT ALL like Dickens. I went in search of the review that had made the Dickens comparison, and found instead a different review calling it, aptly, the love child of Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. I still wish I could find that first review, because I want to know if it included a spoiler. There's a plot line in which a character is mysteriously ill, but the etiology of the illness, and indeed the etiology of the etiology, were immediately transparent to me. They seemed both chilling and inevitable, and I would like to know if the reviewer made them seem inevitable to me, or if the inevitability was entirely the author's work.
Now I am 480-ish pages in and you know, it is something like Dickens. Only with better female characters. And more sex, and less enthusiasm for the countryside. But yeah, the Dickens comparison makes sense. It's really good, if frequently disturbing. The author slides persuasively into the points of view of a variety of characters, and cuts from one story to another in a way that has reeled me right along through 480-ish pages. I am making occasional notes to myself about anachronistic dialogue, etc., because for the most part I have been so impressed with his authorial judgment that it jars me to bump up against a whereby where I don't think a whereby belongs. It reminds me that this is, after all, a guy writing his first novel and not a master of the form. It was published in August of last year, before the election, but I am intensely curious about the timeline on which it was written. The bits about American political divisions are so timely-- I was especially struck by the moment in which American authorities think wistfully about Russian authorities' use of brute force.
So I had thought that I might write you a post about the retreat, or a follow-up post about liturgical music or healthcare, but instead I am going to curl up in bed with my book. See you soon...