Thursday, May 04, 2006
I've never read a book that seemed as easily written as Jeffrey Ford's The Girl In the Glass. That isn't to say that it's a simple book. It was a breeze to read. Ford just has a way with storytelling. After finishing Hrabal's book and beginning Manguel's the night before, yesterday morning I woke up, picked up Ford's book and headed to work. Ten hours later I was almost done with it. By 10pm I was done and left wanting more.
"I turned back to the beginning of the tale and read the first few paragraphs. It had been many years since I'd read about the demon who had created a mirror, the special nature of which reflected all of the true and good things in the world so that they seemed distorted, absurd, frightening. When the demon tried to take his mirror to heaven to show the angels their warped reflections, he dropped it and it fell back to earth, shattering into a million tiny particles. The wind blew these infinitesimal shards of evil into the eyes of two children who loved each other, and their views of the world and each other turned dark and disturbing. The image in my mind's eye of Charlotte's corpse was a shard from the demonic mirror."
The Girl In the Glass unravels like a an old mystery movie, full of carnival geeks, strong men, Mexicans acting as Indians and most importantly, slight of hand artists. Thomas Schell is a great slight of hand artist working the rich neighborhods of Long Island during The Depression. But Schell has found his niche...seances. With young Diego, our narrator, acting the part of Indian guru Ondoo and former strong man turned body guard and friend, Antony Cleopatra, working as chaffeur, Schell has made the rounds of Long Islands richest, playing on their fears and insecurities and bilking them of their dough. But when Schell supposedly sees the image of a young girl in the glass window of one of his clients, he decides to put all his effort into finding who she is. Turns out, she's the missing daughter of another rich family. The mystery unfolds with the trio employing their skills for good to find out what happened to the young girl.
Diego is telling us the story looking back on his life with Schell, whom he calls his father, and Antony. It is a story about family as much as it is a mystery with exciting characters. It's a story about how life tosses us around, leaving some of us alone in the world, only to be saved by another human. Diego was alone in the world, slowly dying in the streets during the early part of the Depression, until Schell plucked him out of the gutter and into an exciting life. This instant bond created a relationship stronger than most blood relationships I know.
I may write a little more on this tomorrow, but I just got in from my second job and I'm a bit tired. I'm going to go for now, but you can check out more on this book at the Litblog Co-op where Ford has been a guest blogger for the past few days. His blogs are worth checking the site out. You can get a sense of his writing and grasp his understanding of his subjects. He's an interesting guy and I'm definitely going tot read more of his work.