Mere pages away from the end of Swann’s Way — so close in fact that I don’t know if I should even haul it to work or not; I could finish it on the ride in this morning, and I hate lugging dead books with me. Volume 2 is somewhat larger, so I sure as heck don’t want to drag them both. Ah, the quandaries of a reader.
But more about the book itself:
It is breathtaking. He slows time down for you to draw out, over many pages, the refractions of a single moment. The narrator sees, for example, a girl through the hedge, falls instantly in love, and we then read about how the mind so often latches onto some framing detail, the colors of the leaves and flowers in the hedge, the flash of a beach ball, the sound of some distant wind high in the trees, as the crucial mnemonic detail that will forever stand in for the luminous flashing moment of first love. The mind can only grasp that first moment by approaching as it were obliquely, by way of some indirect and innocuous aspect.
The novel within a novel, Swann in Love, which I just finished, is a study of sexual jealousy, agonizing and embarrassing in its brutal and lacerating accuracy. A trainwreck in dreamlike slow motion. And Odette isn’t even his type.