I came upstairs over an hour ago to take a shower so I could go to the grocery store and get something to eat. Instead, here it is nearly 1 p.m. and I’m stinky and hungry. It’s all Ethan Canin’s fault. I’ve been reading his new novel America America this week and it’s getting to the point in the book where all I want to do is read it. I’d rather read this book than eat, shower, watch A Different World reruns, clean the house, or check to see if the dead bird is still there. That’s how preoccupied I’ve become. I don’t even know if the bird is still on the lawn!
In fact, the only reason I am sitting here typing instead of reading is that I’ve just gotten to a rather important part of the story, a part whose foreshadowing was so subtle that I tossed the book down and shouted “fucking brilliant.” Then I sighed in exasperation and jealousy. But really, it was so fucking brilliant that I had to stop and pay homage to the brilliance. Goddamn Canin’s good.
I was a little worried about this book. It started a bit slow and at more than 400 pages you gotta be magic to sustain a story that long. But it’s Ethan Canin and I have no idea why I even worried for a second. After all, this is the man who wrote “We Are Nighttime Travelers” which is, I believe, the first short story to ever make me cry. I should have known I was in capable hands from page one.
Did I ever tell you about the time when Canin came to Madison and did a reading in the early 90’s. I sat five feet away from him and fell in love when he told us how he left medical school to write. He was tall and his voice was soft and to this day I can see and hear him as if a permanent VHS recording was made in my brain. Ethan. I still crush on him. I am a true writer geek.
I have been in love with Canin’s prose since I first read a short story of his many years ago. I have been holding off starting this book, hoping to find time to fully savor it. Thanks to this post, I am breaking it open tonight.