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Monday, July 28, 2014

My Return To Brooklyn

I read Colm Toibin's "Brooklyn" soon after its 2009 release - it was the first selection for the first book club I ever joined. At the time I remember thinking the quiet tone of the novel belied its considerable power. In my experience, authors like Toibin - no flash but lots of fire - are not easy to come by. After finishing his 2012 book of essays - "New Ways To Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families" - I knew more of Toibin's work awaited me.
       
So, it was cool when a different book club recently selected "Brooklyn". Almost five years have elapsed but my notes and book journal brought Eilis Lacey and her parochial world right back to me. And Toibin's luminous prose struck me as brighter than on my first reading: "...do anything rather than face her tomb of a bedroom...";  "Eilis felt, despite the improving weather, that all of the colour had been washed out of her world";  "It was early and there was no sound except for birdsong". John Updike once remarked that writing book reviews was easy since most of the words he used in any review belonged to the author he was reviewing; Colm Toibin's gifts support Updike's statement.

I recommend "Brooklyn" without reservation - it is strong beginning to end. Especially when I re-read a powerful passage midway through - a brief conversation between a book clerk and Eilis about her teacher Mr. Rosenblum - it was great to be back in Brooklyn. What return to a book last gave you this kind of pleasure?

1 comment:

  1. There aren't many books that I read twice...time is too short! But I have really enjoyed several re-reads: Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier is always satisfyingly romantic, creepy, and British. The Grapes of Wrath, Rabbit, Run...amazing. Two that didn't stand up to my teenage memories are Exodus by Leon Uris and Gone With The Wind. Sometimes you just can't go home again.

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