Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Book #15 - Look Homeward, Angel (Thomas Wolfe)

After finishing "Kim" I wanted to move on to something very different, and I got it. I'm now 100 pages into Thomas Wolfe's novel "Look Homeward, Angel". Wow. This is a big and sprawling 700 page book, with an emphasis on BIG! The novel, so far, chronicles the history of the Gant family. The father, Oliver Gant, is one hell of a character. In my blog I may discuss the finer points of sipping whiskey, but Oliver Gant is not a sipper, he's a gulper. He's an alcoholic who goes on benders every now and then, before pulling out of it and returning to his family. He also has a huge, outsized personality...much like the novel itself. He screams, yells, and curses, sometimes with malice, sometimes with humor. He's a force of nature. He moves to the hills of western North Carolina, and raises a big family. His son, Eugene, is clearly going to be the focus of the book. I've often heard the phrase "Southern Gothic", and didn't really know what it meant, but I'm guessing the Gant family meets the description.

Wolfe's writing style is quite fascinating. He'll write a few paragraphs, or pages, in straightforward, easy to follow, "story-telling" style. Then he'll lapse into what I would call "impressionistic" writing...a more poetic, free-form style of writing. I quite enjoy the contrast...The poetic parts are nice, and very visual sometimes, but if that was all there was, the book would be impenetrable. I think this book will continue to be fun to read...

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