Sunday, September 02, 2007
66. " The Welsh Girl" - Peter Ho Davies
As I'm reading the second chapter, I had an intense feeling of deja vu. Not the "I've read something like this before," but "I have read this before." But this is Peter Ho Davies first novel. Impossible.
I drove me friggin' crazy. Flipped through to the end, scanned online. Finally, I found it in his words of gratitude - the second chapter had been in a 2004 (?) edition of best short stories, edited by Barbara Kingsolver. Aha! I knew I wasn't going crazy. No comments from the peanut gallery.
Rural Wales, early 1940s. WWII has begun. A Welsh girl is pouring ales at the local pub where half of the bar is Welsh-speakers - farmers, quarrymen - the other half is British soldiers. She doesn't know that later in the night, something will happen that will (dun dun dun) change her whole life.
Reading like a series of short stories (unsurprising, since Davies has two other books of shorts), the novel brings together the arc of a German soldier, a lost British boy, and the Welsh girl.
I predicted the ending by the fifth chapter, which isn't a problem if the journey to the finish is worth it. There were some moments where I felt the brilliance of the imagery and metaphor. But overall I would have rather stuck with that beautiful second chapter that was so memorable as to cause deja vu.
3.0 out of 5.0 Woo Woos.
Now playing: Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)