Sunday, June 13, 2004


I took Manfred, Jr. downtown the other day to get the new comics that are out for the month. He gets them from a dealer who has a collectibles business and a bookstore. All of it is claustrophobically but deliciously crammed in a long narrow storefront about the size of a 7-11.

While Manfred, Jr. was picking up the comics, I scanned the fiction section. It's also the "let's-pile-crap-HERE" section, so I always have to squeeze in, which makes me mindful of my abandoned diet. I spotted a copy of SLAMMERKIN by Emma Donoghue, which Sara Nelson recommended in her book SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME. I wrote the title in the back of my reading journal. Books that I've read are at the front of the journal.

$4.95. I came, I saw, I was conquered. I followed Manfred, Jr. to the register, bought the book and we both left contentedly. Later that day, I finished STAR MONEY and immediately began SLAMMERKIN.

Wow! What a terrific novel! It's difficult to say which is more the main character, Mary Saunders or 1760s England, because both are so vivid, it feels as if they've been unleashed onto the page! Donoghue must have done a hell of a lot of research. The neat thing is that it doesn't show; there's no aridity or stiffness about the prose or the dialogue, which captures the way people in that place and time spoke back then.

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