Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman

I’ve been reading Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman from the old paperback that came with me from the States: back cover mostly gone, pages softly browning, smelling of mold and dust. I love this book.

This review says it quite well: “What makes Moonwise so unusual is the fact that it exists in a grey area between prose and poetry; without rhyme, meter, or any set patterns, it is very dense in its imagery, and the story is subordinated to the words far more than the other way around. It is not the sort of book that you read in a few sittings. Like a Worm Ouroboros or a Gormenghast, it is, I think, one of those novels that it is easier to admire than to love (although if you do fall in love, you’re not likely to fall out again, knowing that you may never find anything remotely similar to take its place). Sometimes it is almost too clever, too self-conscious, and because of this it may wear on the reader’s patience — but in smaller doses it can be an altogether bewitching and extraordinary experience.”

The opening paragraph of the book illustrates that well. Not a quick or easy read, perhaps a bit over-rich if one tries to eat too much at one sitting. A book to keep on the table next to your reading spot and savour slowly over many nights. A book for people who love the cadence and creativity of language, who appreciate imagery over plot or snappy dialogue. I’ve never read anything like it.

There was a green bough hanging on the door. The year was old, and turning lightward, into winter. Cold and waning, at the end of her long journey, Ariane looked back the way she’d come. Bare woods, bright wind that shook the rain from naked trees, a stony slant of field: the earth lay thinly here. The trees stood lightstruck, hill beyond blue glaze of hill. Then it darkened again, turned cloud and clods of earth, and crow-blotched trees: a drizzling thaw.

Such a gorgeous book.


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