Sunday, December 30, 2007

Not soothing the savage beast (books - The Pilgrim Hawk)

This is what always happens. Even if I've set the limits myself, as in the list of books to round out the year, I end up finding others more interesting. I'm probably not going to read the Garth Nix books on the list right now. In fact, The Pilgrim Hawk had been sitting on my pile for over a year and just attracted my interest and replaced one of the other books I had originally on the list. Actually, one of the reasons it ended up on this end of the year list is because it is a novella. It has something of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in it, only it's set in a house in France in 1929 and the occupants are a writer, his wife, their idle Irish friends the Cullens, Mrs. Cullen's hawk, Lucy, the Chauffeur, the cook and a manservant. The hawk becomes a device through which these people not only see each other, but in some cases express their feelings towards each other. A predator can be domesticated, this novel seems to say, but not its nature. It's a strange novella that, I must admit, I did not find entirely satisfying. The narrative voice seemed a distant, even disinterested one. Alcohol flowed, people were hideous to each other, still it was curiously interesting.
Needless to say, the twenties were very different from the thirties, and now the forties have begun. In the twenties it was not unusual to meet foreigners in some country as foreign to them as to you, your peregrination just crossing theirs; and you did your best to know them in an afternoon or so; and perhaps you called that little lightning knowledge, friendship. There was a kind of idealistic or optimistic curiosity in the air. And vagaries of character, and the various war and peace that goes on in the psyche, seemed of the greatest interest and even importance.

40. The Spoilt City - Olivia Manning
41. Friends and Heroes - Olivia Manning
42. Nerve Damage - Peter Abrahams
43. The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue
44. The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick
45. Tell me Everything - Sarah Salway
46. Experiment in Love - Hillary Mantel
47. The Pilgrim Hawk Glenway Wescott

48. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
49. Lisrael - Garth Nix
50. Abhorsen - Garth Nix

And that brings me to #48 (this is never going to happen, is it). In honor of Madeleine L'Engle, who we lost this past year, but whose delightful talents live on, I'm going to re read A Wrinkle in Time. And it most certainly does count.


Anne Camille said...

Depending on how tomorrow goes, I should finish my last book of the year -- A Wrinkle in Time. I agree that it does certainly count!

Eva said...

I reread the L'Engle this year as well. :) Good luck trying to get to fifty!

Sheila O'Malley said...

Ah, Madeleine. One of my all-time faves. I think the first scene of Wrinkle in Time - where they're all up, making liverwurst sandwiches in the kitchen - on the "dark and stormy night" - is some of my favorite writing of hers ever.