Friday, March 17, 2006

Rock Island Line by David Rhodes - A Quick Book-Blurb

This post will not do this wonderful and hard-to-find book justice, because my physical condition (a consciousness spread thin by strep-infection, antibiotics and pain killers) made for a less than ideal reading environment. But such are the vagaries imposed on a person subject to inter-library loans and a rare spate of poor health.

A marvelous book. Using a fantastic-realist style not dissimilar to Marquez's in The General In His Labyrinth, Rhodes gives us a lush history of an Iowa family, in a timeline that extends from the turn of the last Century to the late-60s. Rhodes' characters engage their lives to the absolute limit, exerting their will in and against a world that is both recognizable and fabulous. I'm tempted to compare Rhodes' powers of observation to those of Philip Roth in his senior years -- the same recognition of the daily environment and its enchanting effect on the people who live there (think of Roth's intimate and loving evocation of the glove industry(!) in American Pastoral). That Rhodes, still alive and writing, can have such a chimerical and inviting ability with words yet slip into near obscurity seems incredibly tragic.

More anon, when my own copy of this book arrives.

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