08 May 2008

A Peculiar Grace

I just finished A Peculiar Grace by Jeffrey Lent. I liked it a lot. The title could certainly describe Lent's ability to capture a moment. He has a sparse, deceptively simple style of description that is very evocative. Here are a few examples:

"Empty soup bowls with a membrane of pale greenish white dried on the inner edges, small plates with darkened crumbs of toast. Hewitt had considered the small candelabra of white porcelain decorated with tea roses and fragile petals but rejected it for fear of appearing romantic and settled on the frosted fixture above the sink with its forty-watt bulb that threw a soft slantwise light over the room."


"The woods were perfect. After the night and day of steady easy rain everything growing was a bit pressed down and back, opened. And all things, trees, lichen, brush, berry canes and stones, especially stones, were sharpened in outline, brighter in their color, more distinct. Revealed."

By themselves they may generate a "so what" from you but, trust me, you read hundreds of pages of nuanced snippets like this and the effect is dramatic. Lent's been compared to Cormac McCarthy, Pat Conroy, and William Faulkner. The story starts off with a good hook and draws you deep in before you even turn around. And then it's like you're in the house living with these characters for multiple seasons.

You want more than just description? How about this bit from a heated exchange:

"I grew up with God as frightening and spooky as Boo Radley. But you know what? God is either a long-ago fragment of history's fucked-up imagination or plain sick of us and taken up with new, more interesting projects. He's sidelined us for good but I have to wonder Hewitt if we all stopped doing things the way we do and started doing it some other way altogether then maybe way off in the far beyond place of the universe He'd stop what He's up to now and lift up His head and shake it thinking something's missing--there's an old old sound I don't hear anymore and after a while maybe remember us and come a bit closer than He seems to be now and see we've stopped doing all those things we do over and over to each other and maybe then there would be a God."

Like I said, he's good.


Sean said...

I apologize that my comment has nothing to do with Jeffrey Lent or A Pecuilar Grace. Thanks for the recent comments you have left on my blog. I'd like to add your link to my site (Sean's Ramblings), but I wanted to make sure this was OK with you first. In addition, please feel free to add a link to my site.

Thank you, and keep up the great work on your blog!

lacochran said...

Well, shucks! *blush* Aren't you sweet! Sure you can!