January 22, 2004

Waxwings, Jonathan Raban

What a cheerful story - for the first few pages - and then there is Dickensian terror; and later, chapters at a time of louring doom. The resolution is none too awful, but still tentative and tender, like the day after a bad stomach-flu.

It's sort of a Seattle Tech Boom novel, and more an Academic Midlife Crisis novel. Like Seattle and the Demons of Ambition, it's rather a story of what it was like to be a confused accidental observer of the boom than an explanation from inside. Nor was boom-history, I think, at all its purpose; it's a good plain novel of characters, with intentional echoes of Victorian literature that I found apposite and graceful.

I don't think I seek out academic midlife crisis novels. They seem disproportionately common. I hear that professors of writing have been known to bridle at the suggestion that this is a genre; no solidarity, poor souls, no self-respect.

This edition is printed in a slightly odd font with capital letters peculiar enough to arrest my reading; but no colophon! I don't know what font it is.

ISBN: 0-375-41008-2

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