A Tipsy Picaresque

From Rain Taxi Review of Books:

Book_2 In taking up the latest in a given author’s sequence of novels, I am too often instructed by jacket copy that the book in my hands may be thoroughly enjoyed entirely on its own. It isn’t true, nor should it be. Time is real in every direction, and as Robert Creeley was beautifully inclined to say, “I want to take the whole trip.”

If there is any trip sublimely worth the taking in contemporary fiction, it is Gerard Woodward’s three novel sequence — August, I’ll Go to Bed at Noon, A Curious Earth — concerning the catastrophes, the outrages, the angelic goofiness and visionary transfigurations of Aldous and Colette Jones and family. On the day I finished my first reading of August, I sent out a blizzard of e-mails and postcards to friends and acquaintances announcing that we now had, over in England, a novelist writing prose the way William Blake would be writing it if he owned a bicycle. (August opens with an Englishman’s bicycle accident in Wales; Aldous literally tumbles out of 1950’s London and into the pastoral — a dairy farmer’s field, or perhaps a Samuel Palmer painting, which soon becomes his family’s annual campsite and second home.) Having just completed my first reading of A Curious Earth, I can, with the deepest conviction, avow what Blake avowed in his letter to Thomas Butts, 22nd November 1802: “My enthusiasm is still what it was, only enlarged and confirmed.”

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