Lulu Luo Luo itibaren Stare Budy, Polonya
I wanted to read this collection since 1992, when it first came out. Finally, last November, my friend Fiona loaned me her well-worn copy. It had been to Alaska and back with her, and who knows where else. At some point early in the new year, I began to read the book, first reinforcing the cover with clear packing tape. Fiona, you know me too well. The book was a revelation, one of the best I've ever read. Even if I took my sweet time with it. Its 700+ pages hold 37 of Mitchell's New Yorker essays, including a few short stories, ranging from 1940 to 1964. The first covers McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, and I was immediately hooked. McSorley's survives—I first visited in the summer of 1990—but for the most part the book chronicles a forgotten New York. And it's the rough-and-tumble side, the Bowery, the Seaport, after hours at the police station, the bars, diners, cemeteries, and everywhere in between. And oh the characters he meets, poets and preachers, iron workers and movie-house managers, schemers and dreamers. Along the way we watch Mitchell grow as a writer. His earliest pieces often end abruptly. He becomes a more nuanced storyteller. He takes some stabs at fiction but I think soon realizes that real life is where the action is. I can see a strong influence on a later New Yorker writer (and another favorite) John McPhee, especially in Mitchell's later work. They both become so enmeshed in their topic that they want to convey every detail, and just when it seems too much, a character is introduced to put a human face on the story. (Interestingly, the two men provide the only two pieces I've ever read about shad.) But Mitchell gets the nod, because he's much more willing to get down and dirty, and at the end of the day, his topics are just more fun. And so for months, I carried the book with me wherever I went, bus stations and train stations, snowstorms and heat waves, and yes, even to Alaska and back. I treasured every essay. To first-time readers of Mitchell's work, I suggest skipping the 2008 introduction by David Remnick till you're finished. (There's a bit of a spoiler. Why do introduction writers for old reprinted books assume we've read them before?) The book ends beautifully. Mitchell, who's accompanied us through a quarter century journey, meeting countless friends along the way, finally reveals himself, and it all comes together. This is just about perfection.
Definitely the best of the five in the series! The adventures of Percy and his friends comes to an extremely satisfying conclusion in this final installment, as they race against time (literally) to stop Kronos. Percy's growth and maturity is subtly but believably done. The plot of this book is AMAZING, and the pacing is perfect, with exciting scenes filled with action to quiet scenes about loss, loneliness and growing up. I especially loved the scene where Percy makes the choice to take on Achilles' curse, and the battle scenes were elegant, furious, and wonderfully written. The story of Silena and Charlie was sweet and sorrowful, and I loved the growth of Clarisse during this episode. Luke's story was wonderfully paced and concluded in a perfect manner. A perfect conclusion to a wonderful series!!