Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Enjoyable? That's beside the Point

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
This novel is the winner of this year's Booker Prize over a book I loved and ardently supported, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. Did it deserve to beat out Mitchell's opus? Arguably, yes. Where Mitchell's magnificent novel is raw, vibrant, explosive, exciting, poetic, and prophetic, The Line of Beauty is refined, subtle, understated, touching, eloquent, and reflective. How is that for two opposites? Hollinghurst excels in creating a prose where everything is vividly rendered from mood, to tone, to atmosphere, to pacing, to setting, to plot, all with an economy of words. That is, though the book is so perfectly realized, it still retains the quality of perfectly translucent prose. The reader is not distracted from the story by Hollinghurst showing off his literary virtuoso like Mitchell sometimes can be accused of doing. Rather, this book is a perfectly crafted work of determined, fully realized art. Hollinghurst runs a massive gamut of themes from art and beauty, to obession and love, to wealth and morality, to sex and power, and beyond. This is a deadly serious and utterly adept creative work that is here to inspire and mature the reader—never to entertain. It is not always fun to read like Mitchell, but it sure as hell earns every ounce of praise it receives.


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