Move over, Emile Zola. Step aside, George Moore. (Stay where I can still see you gentlemen, though!)
There's a new fellow in the Bybee bookiverse. George Gissing. I've only read one complete novel so far -- The Odd Women -- and I'm about 15% into another -- The Nether World -- but I'm a fan. Look at me, dashing like Emily Dickinson. Yep, I'm smitten. How did his work escape my notice for so long? Or did it? A long time ago, before most of your blogs were born, we had an Outmoded Authors Challenge. Did I see his name there? A memory stirs...
Anyway. How do I love George Gissing? I won't count all the ways, but suffice it to say that he hits my literary sweet spot. He's like George Eliot and Emile Zola combined. One foot in Victorian literature (but not the fainty, fussy kind -- the spirited, intellectual discourse kind that really takes its time about developing characters. Yes, I'm looking at you, Middlemarch!) and the other foot in Naturalism. His characters go off the rails on a crazy train from time to time, but then they go home and have a cup of tea and think about it.
Furthermore, his prose is so intensely readable. [Rant about Henry James removed.] I'm afraid to read him on the subway; I'm going to miss my stop one of these times. Also, the way he creates characters! I wanted to smack practically everyone in The Odd Women upside the head, but it's only because Gissing made me care so much about their lives.
Of course, this in no way plays into my hero-worship, but Gissing's books are free. Thanks to Susan at Pages Turned, who mentioned him on Goodreads, I hunted them down and snapped up five -- The Odd Women, The Nether World, New Grub Street, Eve's Ransom, and The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft.
It's going to be a George Gissing summer.
P.S. He was cute, wasn't he? I tried not to say it, but there you go.