Monday, March 08, 2010

Oh Henry

This day brings you a reformed bookworm. I'm never going to say bad things about Henry James again.
Last weekend, I read The Turn of the Screw and it was amazingly, jaw-droppingly good. It was brilliant. I'm practically on my knees in bookworm reverence at how one can read this short novel with "double vision". James wrote it so neatly that it can be read as a ghost story or a psychological novel. Very cool! I keep dipping into it again and again to examine different scenes, reading them one way and another. It's like having a new (educational) toy, or one of those optical illusion pictures in which you see the old lady one way and the young lady another way.
Henry James' brambly sentences are what make it all work perfectly. He creates a kind of sickening (vertiginousness, claustrophobic) atmosphere that I've also experienced while reading another great horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. (I'm almost positive now that she had James in mind when writing that book.) Also, the reader is cutting through that thicket of words, trying to make sense of what's going on just as the main character is and while that's going on, James has been busy leaving little clues...oh, it's too marvelous. If you haven't read it yet, you must. Even if you're intimidated by Henry James -- like I've been all these years.
Nothing beats that singular bookworm rush of falling in LitLove again.


Eva said...

Yay!!! I'm 100 pages into The Bostonians right now, and it's so fun. I had no idea what it was about, I just got it from library because I heart James, and it's delighting me. :) So far, my very fave James is Portrait of a Lady.

Bybee said...

The Bostonians is at my library, too. I'm planning to grab it soon.

jenclair said...

I loved it! My first reading was in high school, and I saw it as a ghost story. Subsequent readings revealed the psychological factors. Such skillful use of tension and ambiguity!

Heather J. said...

His use of commas just about killed me until I learned to just go with this flow. THEN this story got really good! I'm so glad you loved it too. :)

Rose City Reader said...

Turn of the Screw is just the exception that proves the rule when it comes to James! You can still say bad things about him otherwise. :)