Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beloved wolf, beloved bears

I've hardly had time for reading for pleasure this spring, but I've been slowly nursing a novel, TENDER MORSELS, by Margot Lanagan, and this weekend I took a few lavish hours for myself and finished the book -- in bed, wonderfully, in the Springs, while the rain came pouring down outside on one of the darkest nights out there I've ever known: no streetlights, moon, stars, the neighbors in bed or away, just absolute darkness and rain on the roof and windows. Perfect.

Lanagan's novel is a fairy tale, of a sort, about a woman so harmed in this world she's lifted to a sort of heaven devoid of conflict, where she raises her two daughters -- and of course, no growing person can remain in a world without tensions and edges. The book's billed as a novel for young adults, but there's no reason it shouldn't be for any reader, especially if you're at all susceptible to the artful evocation of magic, to tales of transformation, and of profound encounters between human beings and animals.

Lanagan's prose is so beautiful and exact that she makes extreme experiences of ravishment -- living through rape, or passing between worlds, or becoming a bear -- feel entirely available to her reader. And despite the darkness of the book, what one carries away is a startling sense of enchantment, of the possibilities with which the slippery and uncertain world shimmers at every moment.


Elisabeth said...

This sounds like a book to savour. Thanks for the review, Mark, and the image of you reading in the dark under a rain drenched roof.

Paul Lisicky said...

I can't think of a more appealing introduction to a book. I'm reading it immediately.

Paul Lisicky said...

I love the fact that the setting in which we read a book often informs our reading of that book, providing yet another texture to the experience. For instance, I'm teaching an Aimee Bender story next Tuesday, which I read, for the first time, on the train to Coney Island, and that story will always and forever be the story of that train trip: the warm spell in November, the hazy light around the parachute ride.