Dec 7, 2009

Cuban Missile Crises: A Love Story

posted by Jennie

I started reading The Translator by John Crowley because a friend told me that it was even better than Little Big by the same author. It took me weeks to finish it. Read it. It's very good. Don't worry if it takes awhile to get into. Finish it.

Here are a few things that Crowley had to say in an interview about The Translator :

I'm drawn to characters who seem to perceive the secret history of the world, or see a world-story proceeding, and don't trust themselves -- and don't believe that they could know such a thing -- but are drawn to it anyway. That's been a consistent direction all my writing has taken. I can think of people whose minds are active in that way in almost all the books I've written.

We live in more than one universe. We live in an ordinary, commonplace, shared world where things are amenable to reason and in which John Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Kruschev are ordinary people who have gotten into positions of power and are subject to historical forces. But, at the same time, we live in mythic universes in which these people take on symbolic import that we can't entirely control and that we summon up when we mention their names. The same way that we summon up mythic power when we mention King Arthur or characters of that kind.

Whenever you use material like that in a book you are at once touching on both. What I hoped to be able to do was to reference their mythical manifestations while altering those slightly for my own purposes. I don't put myself in this class, but Nabokov said that all great novels of the realist tradition are great fairy tales really: Madame Bovary, Great Expectations, Anna Karenina -- they create worlds of their own and beings of power and beauty and angelic appearance who move among us. To a much smaller degree, that's what I was up to. It was a way of telling of telling a fairy tale within our shared world. I think there are certain people who are able to apprehend that alternate reality -- and to whom it comes -- and it comes back out of them as poems.

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