Runners Who Read

Who knew? A bunch of runners who enjoy reading and discussing what they read.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Thin Place

I just finished The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis. I've never read anything else by Davis; judging from a cursory skimming of old reviews, she seems to be somewhat of a critic's darling, a cult favorite of sorts.

The title of her latest novel is a term from Celtic Christianity, used to describe a place where the physical and spiritual worlds meet. It takes place in a fictitious New England town, present day, during the spring and summer.

It is an extraordinary book. I won't say it's a complete success, because it ultimately relies on some unconvincing plot details to give it a sense of forward motion, but it is one of the most wonderfully (in the sense of "full of wonder") written novels I have ever read. The author really does create a thin place of her own in this modern American town, and makes us see the awesome variety, beauty, and terror of creation in every small detail.

The book is really a series of marvelous details and highly original observations, an ambitious attempt to weave reality and dream, fact and myth, pagan and Christian into one fabric. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. It overreaches in places and becomes merely confusing or oqaque. And the conclusion seems forced and unconvincing, dispelling some of the novel's intricate sense of wonder. But the overall effect is unlike any other book I have ever read. There is humor here as well, and an engaging cast of small-town eccentrics.

For those who need a tightly plotted story or prose with the clarity of Hemingway, forget it. For those who simply enjoy getting drunk on words, a feast.


Blogger Jonas said...

I'm about 2/3rds through The Thin Place and it is all that you described, Ed. I have no idea where the author is taking me, but I'm enjoying the ride immensely. I would love, love, love to look at the world through the author's eyes for a month or two. She has a unique and stimulating mind.

Are we going to discuss The Kite Runner at any time? Are people still reading it? Are we ready for spoilers? Just askin'.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Glad you're enjoying the book, Jon. I find her occasional satirical peeks at Episcopalian church services funny and on target. But it's her eccentric blending of science and religion, reality and dream, Christian and pagan that is unlike anything else I've read. Not a writer afraid to take some chances, that's for sure.

Post whenever you want about The Kite Runner; entirely up to you ... be sure to include SPOILERS in the subject line if you be the spoilin' kind. I know some people had read the book previously, so you may as well start stirring the pot.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I find your descriptions of Davis uncannily accurate. I have to admit, I'm not really following the "plot." I keep tripping over sentences that make me stop and say "hmmmm." Davis is a kick.

I'll probably post something about The Kite Runner in the not-too-distant future.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Nels Nelson said...

For you, Eddie Baby.

An interview w/Davis.

7:18 AM  

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