Monday, December 31, 2007
Dancer by Colum McCann
This novel about Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev is built in a collage structure that spends most of its time on the points of view of the less-than-famous people that surrounded Rudy as he came up as a dancer. And there are moments that are exquisitely written. One thing: I was most engaged by the perspective of the ordinary people who are touched by knowing someone famous (more than famous, someone genius at his craft). It really really matters to them that they knew him and helped him and had some brush with his aura. It's very convincing in showing how that feeling can be not just celebrity-hanger-on-ism but a real gift to the ordinary man--a feeling of the sublime just by having made Nureyev's shoes or given him a home when he was kid---it's an act of creation for these non-artists. I was much less engaged by the moments that were in Nureyev's perspective (there are actually very few of these) and the moments that were connected to his 80s excess (no sublimity there). The other thing: I was really convinced by the moments in which characters reacted to his dancing, it really made me feel his dancing was remarkable. But I was less convinved by the moments in which the dancing itself was described (and again, there were only a few of those).