Sunday, June 26, 2011
Julia Glass, THE WHOLE WORLD OVER
A beautifully crafted novel about the feelings and events and histories that bind people together. I found it interesting that Glass linked this book back to THREE JUNES through the character of Fenno. It's almost as if she created the link between those two novels to suggest (go meta? we do have a psychotherapist in this novel, named Alan) the ways that connections among people (characters) become apparent over time (through plot). In this novel, a group of about a dozen characters with seemingly disparate stories begin to forge connections--through an act of generosity such as helping to take care of a box of stray puppies, a common interest such as high-end cooking, a similar experience such as being a single adult wanting to adopt a child. Glass's characters are flawed but mostly kind, and though the book ends with 9/11 (the "crash" that brings together nearly everyone who survives) it's an optimistic novel. I loved how layered the novel is--there are references to everything from the lyrics to Broadway musicals to a dozen children's books to cooking recipes with esoteric spices. When I was in grad school they called this "intertextuality"--and I guess I see this novel drawing the links among all these texts as a metaphor for the links among these characters. Not that this is a novel with a message, but it's easy to take away the idea that we have only to look carefully (or be thrown into a particular situation) to see the connections.