Wednesday, January 02, 2008

1. "The Boys in the Trees" - Mary Swan


You will hear about this book in 2008.

First, it has the personal stamp of approval by Alice Munro, who says, "This is a mesmerizing novel, that can truly claim to be filled with a 'terrible beauty.'"

Second, it is the type of novel that literary awards are made to support, a prose poem on an epic scale that plays with format and style.

'So, Dodge,' you might be saying, 'what the hell does that mean?'

The Boys in the Trees is like a dartboard; the bulls-eye is the shocking murder of a family in a small town during the early 1880s. Like ripples after the stone's throw, each chapter wavers between responding to the tragedy and telling the story of a new character. Swan succeeds in writing elegant prose, but some may find the mysterious style of introducing characters to the surrounding plot cumbersome, or worse, annoying.

This is a teaching book, a style manual, a lesson in literature. All good qualities. But for a meal, it didn't satisfy this reader.

2.75 out of 5.0 Gin Things.

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