This is billed as neo-fabulists/surrealists writing, and I couldn’t disagree more. For me it seems like Coen brothers writing, almost, and that’s a high compliment. Maybe that’s fabulist or surreal, I’ve never been one to judge. It isn’t even that surreal, when you think about it, as nothing falls from the sky, and no one gets oddly run over by something terrible.
Just when you think a thread of this story is complete, you turn the page and discover another angle. By the time we get to Hollywood with Anne, where the book hits it stride, I began comparing this novel to the brilliant Eat the Document. When I finished that book, I was begging for another hundred pages. With Inside, and Anne, I would have gone on to War & Peace lengths just to see how Anne turned nothing into something.
I recently passed on reviewing a poetry collection. It’s difficult to write about verse. I’ve only tried it once or twice. But what really stopped me was that I hadn’t read the last four or five seminal works by the author. So I felt I lacked the background. I prefer to adopt a writer.
In the 19th century, the writing of historical novels was a big deal, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, A Tale of Two Cities… They were eagerly gobbled up by the rising middle class, who longed for literature that would expand their horizons.
I used to come across countless mass market books, genre stuff mostly, that was being thrown away. I would grab a stack and at night drive to a nearby neighborhood and put a different book in each mailbox. I have no idea what happened to those books, if anyone read them. Imagine the surprise…
The book that never leaves my side, Inside by Alix Ohlin, on sale June. This novel is so good, hard to ignore, searing, funny, impressively slick, that I can’t believe I’ve never read her books. If you poke around the blog you will see my reviews of her collection, Signs and Wonders, which goes on sale at the same time as Inside. Ms. Ohlin will also be doing a little blog work, keep your eyes peeled.