Finished reading two books tonight. First, did the second half of Joy Williams's THE CHANGELING, forthcoming in 30th anniversary edition from Fairy Tale Review Press.
THE CHANGELING really is a bizarre wonderful book. If you've read any of Williams, the woman just punch-packs in every sentence with weird details and one liner jokes and bizarre juxtapositions of words that make you really spin, almost every paragraph has a sentence that wows. This book is no exception, and is even more up my alley than the others of hers I've read, in that it deals with magic and surrealist cloth, and it is very very fucking bleak, though done with an almost screwball method sometimes. Anyone who declaims bleak fantastical fiction, this is where I'm pointing from now on.
I can see why the book got panned a little in its first inception. It's definitely not a 'book' book, in that there is little resolution to things, there are a lot of weird mysteries that get cracked open, almost sentence after sentence of anecdotal weirdness, all that just gets layered as parts of the narrator's brain. In the end it really starts cracking up and going wild, but still under Williams's steady control, but I can see more standard 'literary' readers, people who read the big books and don't read smaller authors, could be like, shit dude she's not even telling a story. She's too good, she doesn't need to tell a story. This is magicmaking at its finest.
More formal review on that later.
Pretty much right after I finsihed THE CHANGELING, I picked up Michael Kimball's second novel HOW MUCH OF US THERE WAS. This book is fixing to get a proper american release after having done well in the UK when released in 2005. Looks like NEW YORK TYRANT's forthcoming book press will be launching it stateside, which is killer and exciting. I'd read this a while back and wanted to go through it again, as I remembered being so bowled over by its subject that I reeled for a while. Kimball is a sick sentence maker. He has rhythm like no other, sometimes sticking little parts onto sentences that cause jumps and skits in your thinking. This book caused one of the more emotional responses in me I can remember, which is strange because for the most part the writing is deadpan and methodical.
I read part one in a hot bath and had to get out. It was filling me too much. This book will sting you and not bat an eye, but then it will touch you on the face. HOW MUCH OF US THERE WAS is basically about a man losing his wife to seizure in old age and the weird transportive struggle as she goes and is gone, but the way it is rendered focuses not on the aspects that other people would cling to, but the weird angular moments, the light in rooms, the hair left behind, employing weird methods to keep time in one place. I really got welled up and started wanting to call my girlfriend and my mother, and I never get like that from reading fiction. But it's also done in a way that's subtle and withdrawn and picking up textures as if in an alien or child's mind. Really, by the end, of this, which I read all in one sitting after leaving the bath, I felt like I'd experienced a whole long ordeal but been guided by a silent presence that knew exactly and did not know what to do with itself. If you haven't read it, get ready.
Also even more excited about his new novel DEAR EVERYBODY that will be coming out I believe in fall, excerpts from which will appear in the first issue of NO COLONY, which is still open and randy for submissions.
PS: If you're in the Baltimore area next Thursday May 22 I will be reading with Michael and several others for this.