It would take someone less desperate for knowledge than I to resist an invitation to THE DELIGHTED STATES, A Book of Novels, Romances, & Their Unknown Translators, Containing
Ten Languages, Set on Four Continents, & Accompanied by Maps,
Portraits, Squiggles, Illustrations, & a Variety of Helpful Indexes. And, as Richard Eder notes in today's review, the "impossibly young face" of its
inviter author, Adam Thirlwell.
He is something of a prodigy and, as such, unstoppable. In his torrent of digressive connections — he joins together Chekhov, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Richardson’s “Pamela” and Hemingway in the space of three dozen lines — there are times we feel we are losing headway and the page numbers are actually running backward.
But the plums are real, even if squashed by too much else. Mr. Thirlwell has several large themes that make their way insistently through his shoves and hops. One is an impassioned belief in the novel. “Although this is a history of ephemeral inventions,” he writes, “the novel’s history is also a history of objects whose value is durable and timeless.” Then he adds, “Sometimes I believe this.”
Despite the possibility of my having read zero of the books from which Thirlwell conjures his construct, I may be taking the book with me next week to New York. I will be there from the 26th to the 30th, if you'd like to have a coffee. For several weeks after that, I will be unavailable via internet.