Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another New Yorker Story--another world: E. L. Doctorow, Wakefield

A perfect compliment to the Updike story in the January 14 New Yorker. I wish I had time to do this justice, but there are classes to prepare for, laundry to do. Ah Duty...

E. L. Doctorow's Wakefield, a wonderfully strange evocation, moving in stages through the impossibility of a return to nature, into a semi-fantastical realization of the dream of dying and returning to spy on the familiar world we've left behind. It's funny and heart breaking and leaves you with nothing whatsoever resolved, your imagination reeling, having taken up the most ordinary daydream subjects and recharging them with a new sense of wonder. This story succeeds exactly at the point where Updike's fell short... Doctorow never loses the initial impulse--doesn't lose courage when he skirts the edge of the convention. The voice of the narrator imprints itself in your mind--this is not rote representation, but a glimpse of the world through a mind you would never have know but for the mystery of language.

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