Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Books: Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell

Sometimes, I really enjoy things, but I don't want to write about them. Then I wonder whether I am just being a big ol' lazy twat. Then I decide that it's not a complete unwillingness to write, but merely an unwillingness to pick at something that is perfectly pristine, small, incisive despite itself, something that is like an unmucked rain puddle on a clear winter morning, reflecting all the world around it.

Black Swan Green begins at the site of such a wintry puddle, but it's a pond, and it's frozen over. Here we meet our narrator who, over the course of the novel, one year, twelve discrete chapters, like monthly episodes sharing keynotes but rising and falling like separate waves, will battle, mostly silently, with his coming of age; there are bullies, parents who don't love each other any more, a speech impediment, a secret society, a curious old lady, another curious old lady, a frozen kitten, a severed mouse head, a county fair, an attractive tomboy, a wallet stuffed with money that must be returned, a kiss, a dance, an older sister with a boyfriend with a sports car. There is a precocious inner life kept secret, revealed to us in the reading, and we fall head past heels in love with it. That's all I want to say; read it yourself if you want to know more.

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