Sunday, 21 September 2008

R.I.P. Book Two - Little, Big

This is my second read for the R.I.P. Challenge which I had to borrow from the library as it seems to be out of print. I have to confess that having read the book I am not sure that it qualifies as an R.I.P. read so please accept my sincere apologies however I will press on.

The synopsis from amazon: "Edgewood is many houses, all put inside each other, or across each other. It's filled with and surrounded by mystery and enchantment: the further in you go, the bigger it gets. Smoky Barnable, who has fallen in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, comes to Edgewood, her family home, where he finds himself drawn into a world of magical strangeness."

I chose Little, Big by John Crowley because I kept seeing it mentioned in interviews with authors citing it either as an influence on their work or the book they would tell people to go out and read. As I said, it turned out not to be a "readers in peril" read but I am really not sure how to describe it. A fairytale? A fable? It's certainly a modern fantasy whose story threads weaving in and out as we follow several generations of the Drinkwater Family.

I can not believe how long this book took me to read - it is quite a thick book with very small type but I don' think that's why it took so long. I think it was because there is just so much going on and I will definitely need to re-read it at some point as I am quite sure that I missed bits as I was not sure what would turn out to be important and kept losing track of who was who in the early stages. This was partly because I forgot to refer to the family tree provided until I'd nearly reached the end!

Smokey is very much the outsider looking in at the Drinkwater family and you can't help but feel that he shares the readers bafflement at times. The book itself has a very meandering pace as it moves between the generations of Drinkwaters. This suits the tone set by their idyllic rural home, Edgewood, especially in the later stages when nearby "the City" is a pretty dark place to live.

John Crowley has a blog and there is plenty of biographical information on him over here. On his blog, there is a link to what looks like a fantastic limited edition hardcover print run which is in production here to celebrate the book's 25th anniversary. They've provided a sample of the first chapter to wet taste buds. Oh dear. This could well enter my "I need" list as it looks like it's going to be stunning.


Ana S. said...

It does look stunning. I read this book earlier this year and I completely fell in love with it. It's definitely a slow read, but I enjoyed every minute of it. And like you, I feel like I need to re-read it to discover aspects of the story I might have missed.

Carl V. Anderson said...

You certainly won't here me complaining, feel free to count it as a R.I.P. read. This is a book that I have wanted to read ever since the first time I read a review of it and it is definitely on my list.