Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Still Looking Homeward

Well, I'm about 450 pages and 12 glasses of bourbon into "Look Homeward, Angel". And bourbon is the perfect drink for this book...sweet, southern, and packing a punch. Several characters in this book know how to drink their liquor, although they can't handle it very well.

Of all the books I've read so far, this is perhaps the hardest one to blog about. Reading this book is great, because it seems to put me in a trance...I'm transported into another world and carried along by the rhythms and phrasings of the language, and the hazy imagery, and the colorful characters. But the world of the novel is very dreamlike...you know how you'll have a dream that seems really vivid, and then you'll wake up and you'll try to remember all the details, but they all quickly fade away, and you're left with only a general impression of the dream, and just a hint at all the details that you know you just dreamed abut. Well, that's what reading this book is like...I love it, and it seems so wonderful and vivid, but then when I try to remember exactly what's happened, it all seems very murky. Wolfe's writing is perhaps almost too good...one can get lost in it, and the details of the novel swim by almost without notice because the language is so distracting. Maybe. It's also that there really is no plot to this book. It's the "story" of the Gant family, and in particular Eugene Gant, who is clearly modeled after the author. He's a talented, sensitive, artistic kid, growing up in a small town in North Carolina in the early 1900s. Eugene is awkward growing up, both physically and socially, and gets laughed at a lot. When he hits adolescence, he has some nervous, awkward sexually-charged encounters with women. He has a paper route, he loves books and reading (which seems to puzzle his family), he goes to a private school, and then to college. His father drinks a lot, and his mother has serious issues with financial security...she does quite well for herself, working hard to run a boarding house, and investing in real estate. Yet she constantly complains of lack of money, and can't spend any on her family. And that's pretty much the plot of the book. But don't get me wrong...it's a great, enjoyable book so far, whose language is to be savored...especially with bourbon!

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