Monday, July 15, 2013

Pulitzer Winner's Newest Novella: Enon

Title: Enon
Author: Paul Harding
Publisher: Random House
Date of Publication: September 10, 2013 
Pages: 256

How I Heard About It: When my mom sent me a copy of Tinkers (which went on to win the 2010 Pulitzer Prize) in the mail one day, I had no idea how hard I was about to fall for Paul Harding. Recently Enon, to be released in September, became available for advanced review on Netgalley and I pounced. 

I inserted the key into the keyhole and opened the door. The old air fell out of the clock, dry, held in the cubic shape of the case for who knows how many years until I opened the door and it collapsed out into the contemporary atmosphere, distinct and nearly colonial for a moment and then subsumed, and I wondered how old it was, if it contained any of Simon Willard's breath.

Two Sentence Summary: Continuing the exquisite family narrative begun in Tinkers, Enon is a poetic meditation on a year of Charlie Crosby's life as he struggles through a grief that seems endless, cyclical. A violent, life-altering incident instantly destroys Charlie's family, and, left alone to make meaning of the horrific event, the protagonist's pain leads him through a surreal landscape of isolation, addiction, and hallucinatory attempts towards reconciliation.

Things I Think: The master of quietude, "indie darling" Paul Harding has written another book in which atmosphere is king. Beyond the charming but eerie setting that completely invaded my imagination and dreams for days, the mood (equal parts somber and surreal) becomes as crucial to the reading of Enon as any plot point. In essence, this meditation on grief is a one-man ballet of self-destruction. Charlie pushes on the invisible boundary between living and dead, uncertain as to which side he should inhabit.  But for a narrative that is so completely devastating, it is wrought with such beautiful prose that the overall effect renders awe in the reader. 

A poet's prose-writer, Harding's extended metaphors basically (no hyperbole) slay me.

The obsidian girl moves through the trees at night. She moves across the fairway of the golf course, near the road, by the stone wall that acts as the hood for the footlights to the stage. She is all but invisible, the girl of black glass, appearing only as a wobbly blur. She is a dark lens. Through her, the dark underpinnings of the world are visible, but they turn whoever might see them to stone, or to ice, or to salt, or to marsh grass. 

This is literary fiction at its finest. Paul Harding, I will forever read anything you ever write. 

And I'm just now realizing the last 3 books I've reviewed have been 5's, which is strange for me but also makes me aware of the fact that I'm getting better at "choosing wisely." 

No comments: