Sunday, February 07, 2010

Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton

I found this gem of a book at one of our favorite Massachusetts bookstores, The Montague Book Mill, whose slogan is "Books you don't need in a place you can't find". I always find something browsing there and this time I brought home and immediately devoured Starting Out in the Evening. Heather Wolfe is a twenty-something graduate student who locates and pursues the somewhat reclusive seventy-something novelist Leonard Schiller. Her plan is to write a masters thesis on his work that will bring his older novels back into print. I cringed when it looked like it was going to be a smarmy love story, but the novel focuses in the end on Schiller's relationship with his adult daughter, Ariel and her struggles with love. It is a literary novel, with plenty of quotes, allusions and references to other writers and the craft of writing. When I found out a movie was made of this book, starring Frank Langella, and it had gotten good reviews, I couldn't wait to see it - and of course - was greatly disappointed. It did not include one of my favorite scenes in the book, when Frank returns to France to keep a promise to his deceased wife, and the comet scene in the end. Oh well. I should have known the book is ALWAYS better.

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