Thursday, April 10, 2008

Angle Of Repose


Two days later and I am still profoundly moved by this book. I can't stop thinking about it.

I am not a lover of words and whenever I read reviews that say, "savor each sentence" and "beautifully fluid prose" I tend not to be impressed. Just give me the story and make me feel. But Wallace Stegner's sentences really do make you want to slow down and read each word. They all matter. They aren't just puffy and pretty even though they are. It serves the time, the characters, the setting...it's just perfect.

I didn't know before reading this that Angle of Repose is actually a scientific term that means when the angle of the ground is such that things stop rolling down. A 50-something historian who has been disfigured and is emotionally scarred heals himself by researching and writing a biography of his grandmother. He reads through her letters and journals, articles that were published and sketches she drew and extrapolates about her relationship with his grandfather, her kids and others she knew. The weaving and changing in time is subtle and I didn't find myself jarred back and forth as I sometimes do when authors use this technique. You feel their lives sliding until the end when things get to the point where they are still. It is beautiful, sad, motivating, and moving. I feel like this book matters. That you can actually gain something other than entertainment by reading it. It is going in my favorite's section.

1 comment:

Becky K said...

So, four months later, I finally finished this book. I was MAD at the dream at the end; I liked that he realized that he became as stony as his grandmother and grandfather, and I liked that he realized that he needed to learn what they couldn't (forgiveness), but I thought the dream was out of place. Long sentence, sorry. But I loved the prose in this book as well, especially at the first, when he talks of the resounding "doppler" effect of our choices and how they rebound farther than we can imagine. The grandmother's doppler reverberated long after her death through her grandson's life.

It made me wonder how my bad choices in my past (and future, I'm sure) will live after me. Scary to think about.