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)
via FoxyTunes


Jason said...

That's in the 2001 BASS. I just took it off the shelf and I'm going to read that story. If it's really the best part of the novel, I'll spare myself the rest.


Kristin Dodge said...

Oy, older than I thought. Where did grad school go? *sniff*

Mmm, achoo-spare-yourself-achoo.