Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Jaimy Gordon: Lord of Misrule

Lord of Misrule (2010), a novel by Jaimy Gordon, won the National Book Award in 2010. That was the same year Patti Smith won the same award in non-fiction for Just Kids. If I understand the formula correctly, National Book Award finalists are awarded $1,000 and winners another $10,000 -- in case you were pondering.

I'm about halfway into Lord of Misrule and taking my time. Not a book to blithely rush through without missing a lot of fine craft and nuance. It's absorbing; you have to work at sorting out characters via their thoughts and dialogue without quotation marks or other traffic markers.

Lord of Misrule is centered around a racetrack and its attendant milieu in West Virginia in the early 1970s. Ever been to West Virginia?

Jaimy Gordon's writing is intense in the way Marcel Proust's and Patti Smith's writing is intense. Here's just a sample snippet regarding Little Spinoza, an easily spooked race horse, from the point of view of Medicine Ed, one of the people characters:

He always was a baby. He scoping around at the cats, the raindrops pimpling in the puddles, the sparrows hopping up and down and cussing each other in the eaves. He stopped and had him a long sniff of Grizzly's goat. Now that Deucey had the two horses, she bought Grizzly a ten-dollar goat to keep him company. When the goat wasn't in the stall he was tied up like now on a chain in the grass patch between the shedrows, but he always pulled it out tight as a fiddle string if folks was around, for he was nosy. . . (page 101).

Yeah, Lord of Misrule is quite risible in parts! Can you dig?

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune. 

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