shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


a footnote on blahblahjamesblah

I don't have much to add to the rousing debate over whether the Caryn James' piece is pro or con -- for a round up of responses see CAAF's post; I found it diverting while I read it, if misguided. And since I've only read one of the books, Madeleine is Sleeping and the first two chapters, or stories, from Silber's Ideas of Heaven, I won't try to address the substance of her larger point (attack) (tomato, potahto). Seems like her own opinion to me, and as some have noted, not really an opinion she bothers to actually build evidence for.

I do have something to say about her thoughts on Madeleine:

Ms. Bynum's extravagantly imagined "Madeleine" enters the sleeping heroine's dreams of gypsies and circuses, as childhood veers into a precocious sexuality in a fantasy influenced by writers from Ludwig Bemelmans to Angela Carter. The novel is lovely, yet transparently the work of an ambitious young writer more enamored of language than substance. She's 32 and this is her first book, while the other nominees have previous books behind them.

This is, to put it delicately, horseshit. I found the novel very substantial -- dazzingly so. The first two chapters I worried that the narrative wouldn't have the weight necessary to sustain the beautiful writing and shimmery texture. It does. The fact that Bynum's 32 and this is her first book is irrelevant, utterly. Who cares if she doesn't have previous books behind her? I doubt seriously if James read these books blind, she would have pointed at the Bynum and said, "That's a first novel! I can tell, I can tell! Transparent, language-lover!"

I've got your one-sentence chapter right here.


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