Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf by Kathryn Davis
Because of a long ago suggestion from Amy Ambulette, I decided to pick up a book by Kathryn Davis. One aborted library loan and seven dollars later I had a compact hardcover from the Strand in my hands. I was facing a diner alone after I bought it and it ended up to be a very good thing because once I read the first page I was unfit for company.
The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf manages to successfully be four books in one:
a) an exploration of small town life that is entirely without cliché
b) a mystery involving an unfinished manuscript that keeps you on the edge throughout the dense narrative
c) a character study of a wild woman grown old, Helen Ten Brix, that manages to not descend into caricature and provides a ton of material for reflection
d) an exercise in POV that manages to make dizzying time and place shifts seem seamless and effortless, all with a first person narrative
Here is a quote from early in the book that accidentally got me where the getting is good because it describes a feeling I have been trying to describe for a long time:
“I was wretched, heartsick, inconsolable. I cried and cried as you sometime do for the whole sorry universe, for the inexplicable machinery that set it in motion and then kept chugging away without regard for all of the tender shoots, as forlorn as these [aforementioned] green onion sprouts that lived and died in it.”
I loved this book and it made me wish I knew something about music since the narrative is obviously structured in a form that likely jumps out to those in the musical know. When you read it, and you really, really, should, you may feel that the moment that the story unravels from is a little too grand, a little crazy, but I feel that it fits perfectly as an action of Brix, a woman who spends her whole life trying to create another world and then finds that she can’t really escape it, even for true emotion.
I love how dense and delicious the book is. It certainly merits a reread in a cold month.