Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen

I reread this novel after picking up a one dollar copy at the Delray Beach Public Library, and I remembered admiring the voice, but I hadn't on my first reading read Hansen's novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and so I hadn't noticed how similar the voices are, except for the fact that Jesse James is a really long novel and Mariette in Ecstasy really short, and Jesse James is about outlaws and Mariette in Ecstasy about nuns. The voice is lyric and pretty and full of poetic lines arranged like lists--and oddly enough it works perfectly for both novels despite the differences. Probably because the prettiness is a nice surprise in Jesse James and while not surprising in a novel about a convent, it is a good fit. I don't really have a point except to say both the unexpected and the expected can work depending on what you do with them. And that an author might have a voice that carries between works (they're not an exact match, don't get me wrong) but that doesn't mean the works feel repetitive or even similar.

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