Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Jeffrey Ford, "The Girl in the Glass"

Jeffrey Ford's new novel, "The Girl in the Glass," is a story of a Mexican boy, Diego, growing up as an apprentice con artist on Long Island in the 1930s. Diego later becomes a writer. It's a great story filled with wonderful characters, many of them "freaks" from Coney Island: a dog boy, a strong man, a rubber woman and a knife thrower. It also has wonderful period details, including one about racism on the Island that will later propel the plot.
I love Ford's stories and novels and this one is no exception. Yet, I find this one harder to fall in love with than earlier novels like "The Physiognomy" and "The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque." Part of this, I think, is because the second half of the book seems to click into a mystery plot and follows it through to the climax. It even includes a sneering villain who spells out his plans to Diego.
But the pleasures of this novel far exceed any of my reservations about the plot. Besides the characters, the early chapters about the seances and the first explorations of the mystery behind the girl in the glass are beautiful, funny and exciting.
Here are some reviews of "The Girl in the Glass": John Clute, Cheryl Morgan and The New York Times.
In other Jeffrey Ford news, he's posted a review of Anna Tambour's "Spotted Lilly" at his livejournal. Ford is really good at recommending great fiction. Check out his column "The Virtual Anthology" at Fantastic Metropolis. I'm thankful that he talked about Akutagawa's "Hell Screen," which is a great story. Pick it up if you can find it.

No comments: