This really is a beautiful book. It’s odd to think it was in the same person who wrote Little, Big. At the time, it seemed that he could only be magical one way, and that he would spend the rest of his life trying to ape that. Like Neil Gaiman. This loss, this long lingering loss of not just family and country but the idea of country–the taste on your tongue when you say its name–I’m astounded that the guy who wrote of an upstate New York Titania and Oberon can make these feelings genuine. He who couldn’t even give the nefarious mechanisms of country in Little, Big names.
But you see, they are not nameless. You don’t get to expunge the evil wrought in the name of the land you call home by blaming a faceless bureaucracy; by blotting out the letters on the friezes of your domed and golden buildings. It is still on you. And he owns that, here. I am normally not a huge fan of books about writers, or books set in the 60s for that matter. But the grandeur he set aside from Little, Big is replaced here with a tired, beautiful knowledge that is maybe more impressive to behold.
I hope he is happy.