Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Reading

Christine Schutt's All Souls is the best book I've read all summer. Granted, my summer reading has been basically zilch, unless you want to count this or this. But still, even if I had read dozens of books, I'm confident that All Souls would have been at the top of my list.


All Souls is the story of a handful of girls at a NYC prep school, with a focus on Astra Dell and her devastating illness. The story is told in small moments, with perspectives changing from teachers, Astra, parents, and other girls at Siddons School. While Schutt's novel is the story of high school girls and their always-dramatic lives, the scenes are beautifully woven, poignant, and aren't at all reminiscent of the drama in reality TV shows.

Schutt's writing style begs the reader to lean in closer--her sentences ebb and flow like water in a tub, there is something surprising on every page, and she is sweetly sad in her writing about tragedy. She surely will be named along with Abigail Thomas and Lorrie Moore as being an influence on my writing. I am so happy to find another writer who isn't afraid to take chances in writing in short sections and ever-changing POVs.

Here's a beautifully written passage (p.41), and be sure to check out more of her book if you get the chance:

Unattached

Anna Mazur said the teachers' lounge smelled of the movies, and Tim Weeks agreed and asked did she want to take a walk? The day was blue; the trees were in a flap. Fall color, October.

"Davidenja!" Tim Weeks said to one of the cleaning women as he and Anna Mazur passed an open door along the hall on their way out. Then Tim Weeks was smiling and looking only at her again, saying, "That's the only expression I know. I think it means 'good night.'"

Tim Weeks smiled at her; nonetheless, Anna Mazur continued to talk about her brother. His cancer--also rare. "My mother put her hands on his face, and that was the beginning of the end," Anna Mazur said then, "Why am I talking like this on such a beautiful day?"

L. Stacks

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