Sunday, August 19, 2007
Oprah gave the seal of approval to The Book of Ruth and The Map of the World, but this is the Jane Hamilton book I love. I first listened to an abridged audio version of this and was captivated by it and then went to the book which was much more fleshed out. The main character is Walter McCloud and the story concerns his present life where he has recently returned to the midwest as a teacher. The most engaging parts, however, are the parts that take place in the past, during the summer where Walter comes to terms with his sexuality, his brother's illness (and death), and his aspirations as a dancer. Hamilton weaves together Walter's love of dance and his love for his friend, Mitch. The slow realization that he will never be able to have either, is achingly beautiful. Walter's reflections on this period as a much older man reveal both his innocence at the time and the lasting effect of that summer and it is all wrapped up in Hamilton's beautiful prose.