|I wrote: |
>"More recently, a really beautiful and oddball novel is DM Thomas's "The White Hotel"."
>Sad, tragic, evocative, the distilled essence of the 20th century in a couple of hundred pages. I don't get to read much fiction nowadays, but this one stayed with me for days.
Of course, when I meant "recently", I meant more recent than Dickens...;-)
That book was very important to me. When it came out in the early 80s I'd pretty much given up on literature and it was all just rocknroll as far as I was concerned. I don't think I read a book between the ages of 15 and 20. Anyway, I was working doing commercial art - nothing special, just pasteup - and used to do book ads for various publishers. We'd cut the covers off for the ad, and throw the books out or give them away. Anyway, for some reason I picked this coverless book up and flicked thru the first pages. And I found there wasn't an opening chapter, just this crazy poem that went on for page after page. And then a diary, which I soon realised was just as crazy as the poem. Then the novel proper starts, told in the first person by Freud, and all the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place...and I was hooked. Books mattered again, incredibly. I agree with you, it is a very distilled, concentrated read. DM Thomas just changed the game, shook me awake. His followup, "Birthstone" is possibly even better - it had a huge impact on me too, although critically it stood in the shadow of TWH. Some of his later works, like "Swallow" and "Ararat" became a bit arch and lost me. But I owe him big time, and still try to buy whatever he writes. His Solzenhitsyn bio is very good too.
Thanks, Brendan, TWH is well overdue for a revisting.