Thursday, March 15, 2007

From the lake came the increasingly terrific sound of wrenching and ramming and slamming

When I got sick last week and spent a lot of time in bed I started reading Housekeeping. It’s very good – good prose, good plot. I love the sense of place and the atmosphere of the book – the house, the town and the lake.

Robinson is wonderful with onomatopoeia. You’d be surprised at all the sounds a lake can make, or at least evoke. She also makes a character of water, which floods the town and the characters’ house. Interesting is how the water can express something of the characters.

Sylvie pushed at the water with the side of her foot. A ribbed circle spread to the four walls and the curves of its four sides rebounded, interpenetrating, and the orderly ranks of light swept and swung about the room. Lucille stomped with her feet until the water sloshed against the walls like water carried in a bucket. There were sounds of dull consussion from the kitchen….

One thing that doesn’t sit right is the cover. It’s an airy shot of an elevated railroad trestle heading into bright foggy sky. It’s a nice photograph, but I don’t feel it goes well with this book, which is sodden, earthly and leaf brown. I looked back at the previous covers of the book and saw some I thought more appropriate – one with a rocker on a porch, another of a heavy framed window, one simply with a dark house. It’s funny how we sometimes feel about the covers of books. Good skin, bad skin.

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