I had finished the Haig by the time I got to Dallas and I found myself purchasing Edward Jones’s The Known World for the next flight (the choices at the bookshop were minimal–it was either this or Sophie’s Choice). Edward Jones is a true master. He is one of the best American writers around today—I know I say this after reading only one book, but I really mean this. Clearly I loved the book and I’ve now moved his most recent story collection All Aunt Hagar’s Children to the top of my TBR queue. Jones weaves together stories of the residents of the made-up Manchester County, Virginia. Moving back and forth in time, you read about Henry Townsend, a black slaveowner and the people who surround him. It’s complex and beautifully written.
Once I finished the Jones, I moved onto Steven Hall’s debut novel The Raw Shark Texts. I met him at a Grove dinner while in Portland—he’s charming—but didn’t get to talk with him at length unfortunately. I had been worried about his use of textual play, but it worked pretty well in the novel. The main character Eric Anderson wakes up one day not remembering who he is. He finds a note telling him to call a Dr. Randle who informs him he is going through yet another memory lapse.Â For the last two years he has been suffering from an acute dissociative disorder after the death of his fiance Chloe. But then he begins to get notes from “The First Eric Anderson” and he embarks on a journey to reconstruct what has happened to him. It involves a conceptual shark that is eating away at Eric Anderson. Not sure how else to describe it without giving a lot away. It’s fast paced and very focused. By that I mean, I had no sense of what was going on in the world around Eric Anderson, the story involves only what he’s thinking and feeling. It also feels like a very male novel, not that I didn’t enjoy it. The plane made a great place to read this book with that focused light above my chair for the four hour flight.