Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just Shelved

Given Ground (Bakeless Prize) Given Ground by Ann Pancake

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There are prose stylists who whittle their sentences to a fine point, a perfectly-tuned object. There are prose stylists who breathlessly append and append and append to their sentences, extending them outwards; as if, in casting this web of words over experience, somehow its multifarious "reality" can be expressed. Pancake falls into the latter category.

If you have the opportunity to see her read a story in person, by all means do it. That breathless accumulation proves absolutely riveting during a reading(and her accent doesn't hurt, either). Her style, in its extension of time, is nothing if not suspenseful. The writing in this collection is lyrical, visceral, and profoundly effective. However, as with many lyric prose writers I've read, I had a hard time locating the action of the stories - I couldn't picture what was happening; I couldn't picture the characters; I caught myself tangled in the sheen of the language, and its rhythms. I loved the first story, though. It gave me the best kind of chills. I didn't finish the last few, but plan to eventually.

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