Loads of Learned Lumber

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

David Mitchell, _Slade House_

SLADE HOUSE IS a short spur line off of the main track of The Bone Clocks, about another confrontation between some soul-suckers of the Shaded Way and the Horologists, with the Horologist (Marinus) prevailing.

At 238 pages, this is something of a jeu d'esprit for Mitchell, a novelist who likes his elbow room, but even so it includes his characteristic time-hopping and has a sizable cast.

Wasn't sure I would enjoy this, as I prefer Mitchell when he is in his late-model, well-tuned English realist mode, more the vein of Jonathan Coe and Zoe Heller, with the cosmos-fantasist mode sprinkled ever so lightly on top. The Bone Clocks, by its penultimate chapter, was going all out for the cosmo-fantasist vein, Deatheaters vs. Order of the Phoenix, Sith vs Jedi, the Shire against Mordor, and I wasn't sure I was up for a book that is largely in that vein start to finish.

 Have to admit, though--I enjoyed it. There is always enough observation in Mitchell--the three first victims of the Grayers (Norah and Jonah, twins and soul-suckers off the Shaded Way) all felt truly and exactly rendered: a mildly autistic boy, a not quite on the up-and-up police officer, a socially awkward undergraduate. As long as he can keep doing that, he can go as cosmo-fantasist as he wishes, as far as I'm concerned.

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