How I love The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It is sumptuous.
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
It's not altogether heavy on plot but it is atmospheric and -- I really liked it.
The Goldfinch, comes out later this month, eleven years after her last one so it's a good time to talk about her first novel, The Secret History. It took the world by storm when it was released in 1992. A page or so in, the narrator tells you who was murdered and who killed him - unheard of.
The story is intriguing and compelling but it's the writing that gets me:
“I took a sip of my drink. If I had grown up in that house I couldn’t have loved it more, couldn’t have been more familiar with the creak of the swing, or the pattern of the clematis vine on the trellis, or the velvety swell of land as it faded to gray on the horizon, and the strip of highway visible – just barely – in the hills beyond the trees. The very colors of this place had seeped into my blood: just as Hampden, in subsequent years, would always present itself immediately to my imagination in a confused whirl of white and green and red, so the country house first appeared as a glorious blur of watercolors, of ivory and lapis blue, chestnut and burnt orange and gold, separating only gradually into the boundaries of remembered objects: the house, the sky, the maple trees. But even that day, there on the porch, with Charles beside me and the smell of wood smoke in the air, it had the quality of a memory; there it was, before my eyes, and yet too beautiful to believe.”
Donna Tartt is from Mississippi, by the way. Just have to add that.
Also: The Awl's take on it, in their Classic Trash section (contains more spoilers).
Then there's this, which makes my heart swell.
Look how worn the book is! I've had it since I was in elementary school. I love getting it out every year.
The sweet little illustrations slay me.
I did a blog post about it here. Amazing how strongly and surely it takes me back.
Another book that brings to mind this time of year is The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda.
From the back of the book:
When Mel Snow meets Toby Warring in a dusty roadside bar, she is instantly drawn to the brilliant magician who can pull roses from thin air and conjure castles out of desert sands. They marry two days later, and begin a life together in the shadow of Las Vegas, where Toby hopes to make it big. Mel knows that magicians are a dime a dozen, but Toby is different—his magic is real.
Ivy Pochoda’s spellbinding and cinematic storytelling seamlessly fuses timeless magic to modern-day passion. Haunting and beautiful, The Art of Disappearing is an imaginative and captivating love story destined to enchant readers for years to come.
I feel like we have to talk about Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, the sequel to The Shining. I'm not going to be reading it, of course - I'm not crazy. I read nearly all of Stephen King's books when I was in junior high and high school - even The Tommyknockers - and they about did me in. I would read them in study hall, in a brightly-lit library, surrounded by books and friends. I was fine! At night, alone, trying to sleep, the images would come back to me. I quit reading or watching anything scary around that time.
I'm tempted, because I loved The Shining. It was my favorite book by Stephen King. Although. The Stand was tremendous.
Years after I read The Shining I saw the movie. I liked it a lot - Stanley Kubrick is masterful. And Jack Nicholson knocks it out of the park. Still: Not as scary as the book.
What books are you looking forward to reading this month?