Thursday, September 09, 2004

This is from the department of things-we-have-known-for-a-long-time-but-journalists-are-just-now-figuring-out.

Book contest updates.

Finished reading Lilith. I wish I had something really intelligent to say about it, but I don't. Certainly a magical novel, and certainly you can see where the influence for Lewis' Christian neo-platonism comes from here. Some of it worked well for me and some didn't. I fear in some sense this may be due to lack of concentration on my part. Despite all the reading I do, I'm still someone who grew up on tv.

Yesterday I finished It Happened in Boston?. Here's a book which contains its own handy summary, which I will reproduce at the risk of "giving it away".

But what was I give? A faithless, empty headed, burglarious woman for a wife and a conscienceless, philandering English phlebotomist for a business agent. This precious pair of vipers began it all. These two adders divided my life, subtracted my happiness and multiplied my misfortunes. It was they who tipped me into that maelstrom of flse marcheses, mercenary Bergamese whores, slippery Italian counts, witless German art experts, villainour Peruvian generals, paranoiac harpies, spiteful Russian cats, specious Polish wizards, spying pigeons, nosy janitors and ambitious Irish cops. My closest friend was driven to hang himself by my closest enemy. Somehow, through cunning insinuation and obscure machinations, I was inveigled into murdering six poor strangers and the kind and generous Leo Faber--in the name of humanity! I have been slanderd, lied to, cuckolded, robbed and persecuted. My lovely reveries have been snatched from my head and replaced by nightmares. The fruit of my years of labor--enough beauty to stock a museum--has been carried off to a foreign land, while one of my masterpieces has been plagiarized by a man dead five hundred years. I've been thwarted by an angel, duped by God and stalked by the Devil. Who would believe such things could happen in Boston?

The book had much of what I love in a novel: a wondrous main character, odd plot, and a shimmering and imaginative use of nearly every word in the dictionary. And yet, I am compelled to compare it to another book about art forgery, Robertson Davies' What's Bred in the Bone. This is certainly unfair. Davies book was written twenty years later and he may in fact have read Greenan. But it is impossible for me to avoid thinking that Davies' novel comes out better in comparison. But I did enjoy reading Greenan's book as well.

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