10.14.2005

what i'm reading: robertson davies

I finished Fifth Business, the first book in Robertson Davies's Deptford Trilogy, and am starting the second, The Manticore.

The first book was brilliant. It's very difficult to describe, as it weaves together so many themes - religion, myth, vengeance, the complexity of human motivations, love in all its many guises. It's also a mystery, in the sense that a novel can be full of surprises and reveal itself only to the patient reader. The device that joins the first and second novels is as elegant a bit of writing as I've ever seen.

I recommend these books to everyone who appreciates good writing and great novels. I'm thrilled to have finally discovered Davies, and will be devouring many of his works over the months and years ahead.

10 comments:

Lone Primate said...

God, it's been a long time since I read it. I think it was grade twelve. I seem to remember something about a rock inside a snowball. Am I at all on the right track? If so... it's funny that that's all that stands out in my mind. :) A lot of this stuff is just flat out wasted on 17-year-olds.

Rududu on the road said...

Those are some good books. I got my wife to read Fifth Business just recently. Now she is getting ready to move on to the rest. I always recommend the books.

Good Stuff.

L-girl said...

I seem to remember something about a rock inside a snowball. Am I at all on the right track?

That's a key plot element - it figures into the mystery and the root cause of several chains of events.

A lot of this stuff is just flat out wasted on 17-year-olds.

Totally. In the US, lots of times the books that are taught are a great author's shortest work. So instead of reading The Grapes of Wrath, you get Of Mice And Men. Instead of The Sun Also Rises, you get Old Man And The Sea.

I got my wife to read Fifth Business just recently. Now she is getting ready to move on to the rest.

Cool.

I always recommend the books.

They're going to become standard recommends for me, too. I have certain books I always recommend. White Teeth was a recent addition. Alias Grace is another. Excellent writing + thought-provoking + also a good page-turner = I will recommend to many people.

Amateur said...

Personally I remember finding The Manticore quite frustrating, and I don't remember much about it except the basic premise. World of Wonders goes back in time and re-tells the "mystery" from the point of view of Paul Dempster, and is every bit as rewarding as Fifth Business, IMO.

L-girl said...

Right now I'm enjoying The Manticore immensely because I love mythology and Jungian psychology (although I don't know that much about Jung, but what I know, I enjoy). I also love hearing the story from the POV of Boy Staunton's son.

I didn't know World Of Wonders was told from Paul Dempster's POV. That will be great.

James said...

You'll have to get some Margaret Atwood in there, too. Have you read A Handmaid's Tale? (Books better than the movie, of course)

Timothy Findley's got some good ones, too. Though it's been ages since I've read any of these guys.

If you haven't listened to the CD I gave you yet, pull up My Baby Loves A Bunch Of Authors by Moxy Fruvous from it. Lotsa Canadian writers mentioned.

L-girl said...

You'll have to get some Margaret Atwood in there, too.

I read all of Margaret Atwood's work as soon as it comes out, minus her science fiction. I've seen her read many times, too. She's one of my favorite authors.

Have you read A Handmaid's Tale? (Books better than the movie, of course)

Oddly, though, I'm not a fan of Handmaid's Tale. I love it politically, but as a novel, not so much.

enufalready said...

While waiting for Fifth Business to be available at my library, I picked up High Spirits (Davies). What a hoot! LOL on the bus kind of stuff. A good halloween read for sure.

Amateur said...

Timothy Findley -- I loved "Not Wanted on the Voyage," which is a very unusual re-telling of the Flood story. I don't think I can do it justice, you'll just have to try it.

L-girl said...

Thanks, Amateur! It's been added to The List...