Little Big (was: RE: Zod Wallop)

mks at mks at
Sun Feb 29 04:48:02 EST 2004

On Sat, 28 Feb 2004 21:34:22 -0000, Charlie Butler wrote:

>I've been intrigued by this book, without quite getting my act together to
>read it, ever since I read about it in Brian Attebery's *Strategies of
>Fantasy* - a critical book I like a lot (as I may have mentioned before). My
>to-be-read shelf is already groaning, and Crowley's book does look a little,
>er, big - but if anyone here gives it an unequivocal thumbs-up it may
>leapfrog quite a few other items..
It actually took me several attempts to finish this book (though
better than the seven attempts it took for me to finish Gwyneth
Jones's _Divine Endurance_, stalling at the same page six times and
then passing over it almost without noticing on the seventh - the
reason for this remains a mystery to me). I suspect my problem was
that I went to the book expecting one kind of story and found
something else that I neither wanted nor was equipped to deal with. 

I recall on the first and second attempted readings I was delighted
with the 'fairytale' aspects of the early part of the book but less
able to deal with the sense of time distortion and the move to an
urban landscape. (When I reread Mark Helprin's _A Winter's Tale_ last
year, I was interested to see that what I primarily retained from a
reading in 1984 was the 'sense of wonder' stuff but not the brilliant
examination of a city in the early part of the twentieth century.
Rereading gave me a whole new perspective without diminishing the
previous memory.) I am assuming that somewhere along the way my taste
developed and shifted sufficiently for me to appreciate the latter
part of _Little, Big_ without imposing expectations of a certain kind
of narrative on it.

My dear partner is a great fan of John Crowley but I've an odd notion
he's never read _Little, Big_. A mutual friend reads _Little, Big_
every year. Reactions seem to vary so much with this book but I
personally consider it worth the effort.


Maureen Kincaid Speller
Folkestone, Kent, UK

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