But this isn't a post about international publishing. It's a post about David Grossman.
I just finished reading his most recent publication (from May 2011), Falling Out of Time. Because Grossman is, at the end of the day, an internationally renowned author, I presume this book will see an English publication within a year or two, but I have to discuss it now while it's fresh. And maybe give readers a bit of a heads up.
Falling Out of Time isn't a novel. Heck, it's barely even a book. 186 pages may be legit novel material for most books, but in this case... it's not. Half of the book is written in a strange and disorienting prose style, a cross between poetry and play-script. There are occasional bouts of exposition (two of the semi-narrating characters mostly tell their stories through standard paragraphs), but most pages have less than one hundred words. What the overall word count on this piece is... I have no idea, but it won't amount to much.
In general, if I tried to classify Falling Out of Time, I'd find myself running into a brick wall. The subtitle of the book is "A story in several voices" which is as apt a description as any, but is nonetheless somewhat lacking. A day after finishing the book, I can barely sketch out a plot or story, I can't tell you much about the characters, and the writing was so scattered (and to a degree poetic) that to call it pleasant reading would be somewhat off-base.
But holy heck was this a powerful book.
|Tilting and falling|
Grossman aimed for emotion. And hit a bullseye.
Falling Out of Time punches, and punches hard. Sure, I don't yet know if this book will leave a bruise, but right now the wounds are still fresh, the pain still raw. Can I picture the characters outside their setting? Are they fully-formed? Not quite. But I feel them. I can taste their emotions, I can absolutely imagine their innermost turmoils. It's a wonderful, frightening, almost intoxicating feeling. Whereas To the End of the Land had emotional impact because the reader knew and cared for the characters, Falling Out of Time has a veil of anonymity surrounding it which, it turns out, amplifies the emotional effect. And in such a short space, the impact is intense. And incredibly rewarding.
My favorite quote (p.130, my translation):
In August he died, and when
of that month arrived, I
spent the whole time thinking, how could
I continue onwards to September
and he would remain