Friday, December 30, 2016
I've seen these words in several other reviews of this 1996 novel: strange and lovely. The premise, on the surface, sounds a bit creepy: a spinsterish librarian falling in love with an 11-year-old boy, who happens to be six feet tall already and still growing. But I like an author who takes up a challenge--to make a story like this not just accessible but meaningful and heartbreaking. Some of the sentences gave me serious writer envy; many verge on poetic. Though the trajectory of the book is poignant and even painful, I found myself scribbling smile faces in the margins because the narrator's voice (Peggy, the librarian) is by turns wry, self-deprecating, shrewd and honest. McCracken gives her a clever turn of phrase, interesting ways of representing things. On their journey by train to NYC: "Hours later, we hit the tunnel that led to Grand Central. A shame, I thought, that trains couldn't just ride straight into the city, proud and unhidden. Trains had to senak up on Manhattan, underground, in the dark." "New York beckoned ... Not the way Cape Cod is always beckoning, its curled finger saying to the whole rest of the country, come a little closer, till on the Fourth of July weekend the rest of the country is unaccountably standing on a beach in Provincetown, wondering: How did I get here?" Worth the read.