Sunday, July 25, 2010

Walks with men by Ann Beattie

I once pretended to be a stringer for a local paper and wheedled my way into an interview with Ann Beattie an hour or so before a reading. I have always loved her short stories, and this short novel marks my return to her work after another of those inexplicable absences I mention from time to time.

I must say this novella – barely over 100 pages – is quite a disappointment. It is a strange story, with odd characters, moving through life as if in a daze. The narrator, Jane, is an especially egregious violator. She never explains most of her decisions -- even her introspection at the end of the novel left this reader wholly dissatisfied.

Jane lives on a farm with a musician/hippie after graduating from Harvard. She travels to New York City to receive an award and meets Neil, a Svengali of sorts. Neil wants to “teach” Jane to live in the big city and move about in his upper class circle. I will only add to this that Jane learns, and so does Neil. But a lot of unusual things happen along the way.

I am going to have to put this one aside for a while. Let it percolate a bit, and come back later. The prose is vintage Beattie, so it is worth the read. 3 stars

--Chiron, 7/25/10

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