February 07, 2004

Literary Notes

I just read Marian Keyes' Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married. Maria Farrell is right--this is Keyes' best book, though maybe not her best example of her genre ("chick lit," as Maria calls it).
In the most genre-y of Keyes' books (Last Chance Saloon and Watermelon), the pleasure of the plot is all in seeing how Keyes gets her women away from the awful men and with the great ones; and the problem is that the great men are more or less indistinct dream princes, and the awful ones are so awful it's hard to see what the women saw in them. (Most of the pleasure is, they're funny.) As Maria says, Rachel's Holiday shows the pain beneath the madcap party-girl heroine, but for me it does so at the expense of the pleasures of the plot. Lucy Sullivan brings both sides together--there's a lot of pain there, but it doesn't overwhelm Lucy's life. And the awful man has a lot of appeal, and the great one is a real character.

Also, I just got my first issue of my new New Yorker subscription. The story, Nicole Krauss's "The Last Words on Earth," is fantastic. I hope her novel is as good. This paragraph:

Then one day I was looking out the window. Maybe I was contemplating the sky. Put even a fool in front of the window and youíll get a Spinoza; in the end life makes window-watchers of us all. The afternoon went by; little grains of darkness sifted down. I reached for the chain on the bulb and suddenly it was as if an elephant had stepped on my heart. I fell to my knees. I thought, I didnít live forever.

isn't even the best part of the story. (The link won't last long, so click now.)

Posted by Matt Weiner at February 7, 2004 03:44 PM