Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats
Thursday, January 7, 2016
"The Wallcreeper" by Nell Zink
I might never have picked this book up if I had known what a wallcreeper was. It sounds like something quite sinister or menacing, when it's really just a cute little bird. But I am truly glad that I was slightly misled, because this book is a rare gem. It made me think a silly thought: how is it that some books are so interesting and well-written and others . . . aren't? Of course, some books are just downright bad. Others aren't bad, and I feel I ought to enjoy or appreciate them, but I have to convince myself to do so by making excuses for them. And then there are books that impress me effortlessly. Like this one.
This book is clever and quirky without being coy. The characters are real: nowhere near perfect, but not so imperfect that they are dislikable or unbelievable or revolting. I'm not sure I have any interests in common with any of them, and yet I related to them despite this. The writing is high quality, but not highbrow, by which I mean it's intelligent without throwing it in the reader's face.
As I was reading, Sam asked me if The Wallcreeper had a good story. I wasn't sure how to answer that question. It's certainly not the sort of book where nothing happens, but the plot is much less important than the protagonist's internal monologue. At the risk of skimming the surface rather than distilling it down to its essence, I want to try to describe the book, but all I can come up with is "a sketch of a woman's unusual attitudes about her relationships" and that not only sounds like crap, but also could describe half of all the books published these days (most of which either need excuses or are bad).
The things I've said to Sam have intrigued him enough that he wants to read The Wallcreeper next. I'm almost afraid to let him, though. What if he hates it? I, however, bestow upon it a reader's praise in the highest form: I would definitely read it again someday, and not just because it's short.