WEEKLY REVIEW, MAY 9, 2009
Ann Michaels' "Fugitive pieces" and Steven Millhauser's "Revenge"
"Fugitive pieces" is a melancholic story written by the Canadian poet Ann Michaels. Fiction not dealing with love is a rare bird and Michaels's book is not an exception - the love is center of the narrative. But this is not just a usual love story between man and woman. It is more: this is a story of love between siblings, son and stepfather, lovers and spouses.
The power of Michaels' writing is not in the action. She is a master of the fine painting, where the colours and the mood are prevailing over the actions. The main character, Jakob Beer, a Jewish survivor of the Second World War, finds a sacred place of beauthy and calm in the bright, ancient villages of Greece. The presence of Greece in the novel is a powerful décor and Ann Michaels, as a Canadian, is the right person that can appreciate and translate the beauty and colours of the Ionian islands. The sensitivity of the northern man to the paradise of Southern seas is bordering with dreaming. "Fugitive pieces" is a beautiful poetic prose, a mediatation that brings calm and quiet happines.
The New Yorker Steven Millhauser, a Pulitzer prize winner, published "The King in The Tree" in 2003. This book consists of three separate novels - "Revenge," "An adventure of Don Juan," and "The King of the Tree"- all connected through one subject - love and betrayal.
"Revenge" is the best of the three novels. Written with mastership and easiness, Millhauser's prose flows like a river. This novel appeared for first time in Harpers Magazine in 2001. It is a monologue of suburban wife betrayed by her "perfect" husband.
In the novel Millhauser puts the reader in the position of listener. She, the betrayed wife, has a sharp, bitter and attractive style of expression. Already divorced she leads us from one room of her house to another, and uncovers bit by bit the pain and stupidity of the act of infidelity. Millhauser is a master of prose, every word is well chosen, he is also a good psychologist. However, it is not easy for a man to go inside the soul of an offended woman. Millhauser does not succeed to open the door to the female world completely, yet his attempt in Revenge is not in vain - one or two hours in the company of Robert's former wife are not a wasted time.