Little, Big by John Crowley 5/7 stars
I found Little, Big to be problematic. The story wandered, but was compelling. The characters were opaque, yet I liked them. The world was obviously well thought out, but I did not get to see much. While I was reading it I couldn’t figure out what the book was trying to tell me, though I was sure that there was indeed a meaning there somewhere. Hence my problem.
I should pause here and say that I do like the book and am fairly certain I’ll like it more upon a reread. In this particular case I believe that the fault in comprehension is mine and not the author’s. I feel the same way when I read Kierkegaard. I am just smart enough to tell that it’s brilliant but not quite smart enough to understand that brilliance myself.
There are two things that frustrated me as I read. The first is that I like stories to have more structure than this one seems to. In an interview on “The Virtual Memories Show” Crowley says that he thinks of the story of Little, Big in the same vein as 100 Years of Solitude. I would agree. Both have a story that seems pointless for a good deal of the book. Books should have a beginning, middle, and an end, even if they are not in that order (blame my love of the Classics). Much of the book did not seem to fall in any of those categories; it was extraneous.
The second thing that piqued my sensibilities was the inscrutability of the fairies. I understand that those of another realm would by necessity be difficult to comprehend. I am not talking about that. My problem is that through to the very end I could not figure out if the fairies were friends or foes. Perhaps future readings will make this clear.