Saturday, May 07, 2005

Brief comment on John Crowley

John Crowley's Little, Big and Engine Summer are two of the greatest novels I've read. The former is sprawling, has some elements of the fantastic, and is drenched with melancholy lightened by hope. I've reread it many times. The latter is compact, has some science fictional elements, and despite elements of wonder is so sad that I've only been able to read it twice.

His other work - well, at best I've found it readable because of his beautiful prose. E.g., his interest in esotericism or who knows what in Aegypt made the book an awful chore to get through, and I didn't even try the sequels.

I recently picked up The Translator because it's a straightforward historical novel and was well received by critics I find sensible. It starts off extremely well, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Here's a poem translated? written? by the main character:


Tip up this year on the fulcrum of its final serif
Revolve it through the degrees from right to upright
Like a lifted flagpole without a flag
Or a flat raised upon the stage of an empty theater
Before which histories will soon be enacted.
Now drop it farther, push it entirely over
As the statue of a deposed leader is thrown
Supine, his gloved finger that pointed Onward
Driven into earth to point Endward instead.
See what you have accomplished?
This rarity comes but once in centuries:
A year that can be overthrown but not reversed,
And after all our labors seems to become itself again.
It is not so. As always, we will never be the same.

Here's a sentence about an old man meeting her at an airport:

"His face was infinitely sad and yet his smile was kind, as though he waited to conduct her to an afterlife that was better than she deserved yet not all she might desire."

Ok, maybe I don't like the two "yet"s above and I'm not sure about "as though". Anyway, I'm reading with hope.

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