Monday, July 17, 2006

Take off, to the great white north.

There are few authors I would recommend unreservedly, and even fewer I would consider re-reading, but Robertson Davies is one of them. He is often compared to Trollope, perhaps because he sets his novels in small Canadian towns. He also places strong emphasis on carrying characters or families of characters across novels. So why do I recommend him to everyone? He writes literate novels, but they aren't overly literary, forcing you to puzzle out what the author is trying to do. His take on humanity is that people are flawed but taken as a whole, decent rather than venal. This gives the stories a positive feel that helps carry the somber section. He also isn't afraid to tell a story, something today's literary writers should learn how to do. If I had to compare him to a recent author, I would pick Michael Chabon. Chabon likes to entertain while educating and so does Davies. He also has a similar attitude about humanity and society.

Davies wrote three trilogies across the 50s, 70s and 80s. I would look for the omnibus editions as you will save a couple bucks. Powells has used copies for less than the price of the crappy bestsellers you see at the airport. I would pick any of them, they are all good.

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