I was lucky (Trio)

At this point in my life, I like about one in four novels well enough to finish it. Since I’m a buyer, not a borrower, and get most of my reading material either free or secondhand, that means I have a lot of books I don’t want. After two cleaning sweeps over the past four years, I am have once again built up a pile of a hundred or so discards. No problem, they’ll go to Goodwill or the library sale and the cycle will continue, but I wish the proportion of great books was a little higher.

Recently I was lucky. I went to Boomerangs in Jamaica Plain, which almost always has a really excellent selection of paperback fiction in its back room. I got six or seven books (I think I spent $9.00), and the first one was fantastic. Then I read another, and it was good too! Then I read another, and it was good! What a week!

What’s more, all the three books are about (or partly about) children, and they formed a trio on a common theme, which I would describe as the ambiguous abuse of innocence. The first was Castle by J. Robert Lennon. (I feel obliged to apologize to Mr. Lennon, with whom I exchanged tweets, for buying his book used; my excuse is that I’ve always cherished a goal of being myself found on the same back shelf on Centre Street.) It was chilling and beautifully crafted. The second was Make Believe by Joanna Scott, and the third My Abandonment by Peter Rock.

I didn’t think I would like My Abandonment, since it’s written in a minimalist style which too often characterizes books that don’t have much to say. But Rock’s novel is the rare one that keeps nearly everything between the lines, so that by the end of the book you trust the author completely and read very closely to make sure you don’t miss anything. The last sentence tidies away nothing and leaves you more unsettled than when you began.

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