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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
The Rain Before it Falls - Jonathan Coe The critical wisdom on this is, as many have mentioned, that it's slight--the generally suspenseful story eventually unfolding into some generically familiar family dynamics. Whatever... maybe. Even on its own terms, the story unfolds with an engrossing sense of momentum, with Coe's fantastic eye for detailing character and context obliquely, in passing.

What I loved--loved quite a bit, and perhaps unwisely? I read it in a couple of long swallows, over a couple of nights--what I loved was the musical complexity of its formal design. A woman grapples with her relatively-reclusive aunt's death, finding a series of audiotapes; the woman sits down with her two daughters to listen to the story unfold; the center of the novel is that narration, with aunt Rosamond describing a series of twenty photographs to a long-lost, blind little girl. The book's cover photograph seems to be one of the images; we also get extended intertextual riffs on Michael Powell's "Gone to Earth," music by Joseph Canteloube (no, I don't get that one), and--I think--a cameo by the author. Such trickery is not distracting, not showboaty, not even crucial to unpacking the central plot. However, the complexity of pattern resonates, for this reader, in profound and playful echoes off the central themes of memory, desire, loss. A wonderful read.