Friday, December 30, 2005

Dept. of What Thou Lovest Well is Remaindered

Diminished Capacity
A novel by Sherwood Kiraly

I just got a Christmas card from Sherwood Kiraly. He must be one of the last in America to send Christmas cards through the regular mail, with pictures of the family and so on. And it's not because he doesn't do email. It just one of those things about Sherwood.

So this is my Christmas card. Dear Sherwood, I came upon a copy of your novel, Diminished Capacity in a used bookstore, I bought it and read it, and loved it. I realize I'm a little behind the curve here (since you published it a decade ago) , and I probably shouldn't say I liked it better than Big Babies, which I liked a lot, because writers don't usually like it when you like an earlier book more than a newer one. And maybe it's not a better book, just that I felt closer to the story and the characters in D.C.

Anyway, it's terrific, I had a great time reading it, and thanks for writing it. If I were you, I'd be proud to have written it.

For those people looking in who aren't Sherwood, this novel is a lot of fun--there's a solid and funny and fast moving story, well-crafted (everything pays off) and appealing, well-rendered characters, stylishly told in a gentler kind of Vonnegut way. (Although when I think of Sherwood and Vonnegut, I remember my copy of Slaughterhouse Five he borrowed in college and returned all bent up. That was a first edition, Sherwood. Do you realize what it would be worth now, unbent? Not as much as some of those baseball cards, but still...)

So as I was saying, it's very midwestern and would make a terrific movie, the kind that actually got made in the 60s and 70s. But on the page, it's the kind of a novel you see as a movie while you're reading, which is also fun. The story does involve baseball cards, love lost and found, and diminished capacities redeemed. And fish poetry, of course. That's in all your midwestern authors. Twain, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald... Ernest Hemingway and the fish poetry of the Big Two-Hearted River up in Michigan.

The thing about books is, they're news that stays news. (Another midwesterner said that.) So treat yourself to this one. It definitely won't hurt you.

No comments: