As such it's well enough, though I wish he hadn't told us outright just who these mysterious black-haired Appalachian people are. And in a minor niggle, I dislike people arbitrarily mixing up Irish and English traditions of [redacted], the way Japanese mangaka mix up Jewish and Greek legends, just because they look purty together.
Finished also David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero, the first step up Mt. TBR. Yes, the style is irritating, but it does stop the book from being pure genre, and it does give an impression of internal chaos to match the external chaos of 1946 Japan. It shouldn't give me flashbacks to bustling 1991 Tokyo in quite a different August, but it does.
Much of the plot remains obscure, as books about conspiracies and politics generally are for me: "who is doing what to whom and why?" is one of my reading bête noires. Why did this file go missing? 'For blackmail.' But what was in the file that could be used for blackmail? 'Dunno.' I suspect that much of the action never actually happened but was a figment of the possibly-deranged narrator's mind. If I were the kind of person who happily picks apart the modulations in a Bach fugue, instead of being unable to tell what key we're in, let alone when it changes, I might pick apart the various conspiracies and double-dealings and double identities in this book. But as with music, to 'laboriously unwind the twined chains of melody link by link'- enh, ご免です: I can't be arsed. If intellectual activity is your preference, by all means go ahead. But for me, reading and music are sensual, not intellectual, exercises.
Which brings me to Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights. I read it thirty years ago as a memoir. Now I read that it's a novel. And really, it doesn't matter. It's a lovely luminous work, describing a bunch of people who were probably appalling in reality, but who come through in the work as part of the myth of New York, a well-to-do intellectual's myth, not a popular one. Less Guys and Dolls than
And those were the reasons
And that was New York
We were running for the money and the flesh
And that was called love for the workers in song-
probably still is for those of them left.