Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Master

I just finished The Master by Colm Toibin. I'm not sure how it didn't win the Booker Prize last year. It is really beautiful. There is something so convincing in his portrait of Henry James. I think it is because he gets to the complexity and contradictions of his character, rather than presenting Colm Toibin's Take on What Made James Tick. No one is that easily pegged--certainly not someone of James' famous ambiguity. It is also the quality that made James a great writer--trying to present full psychological portraits of people and their very intimate and frequently complicated relationships.

In a departure from fiction, I just started Margaret Macmillan's history, Paris 1919, which I 've had on the shelf awhile. I didn't realize she was David Lloyd George's granddaughter. It must be a kick to write the history of someone who played such a key role in world affairs, and who also happens to be related to you. When I saw Salman Rushdie last week delivering a lecture, he mentioned the book and quoted from it, so that put it back in front of me.

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