This Place, The Right Place.
This is the second Staymore novel I have read and I’m both intrigued and bewildered. It follows the story of Diana, recently graduated from a top college, and Day, the teenage boy who channels Daniel Lyam Montross,( a local no-good who died years before). They run away together to visit the lost villages where Daniel had stayed eighty years previously.
Diana’s businessman father employs G, a washed up college lecturer, to find out what happened to them after the ending of the previous novel ( Lightning Bug.) Most of the story is told by G ( who is Donald Harington in every respect apart from his name.) He tracks the two runaways from one abandoned village to another, trying to tease out the reason for their long, and apparently pointless journey.
And that is just about the whole story. It’s packed with all kinds of literary references- Diana and Day as Adam and Eve trying to get back to Eden, Daniel Lyam Montrose as either God ( who is running the whole show) or the Devil ( I can’t make up my mind which)- and G the lecturer, allergic to everything except whisky, who is trying to make sense of it all.
“ This Place, The Right Place” is about all kinds of things – Arkansan dialect, village life, sex ( lots of sex) but more than that, this is a book about the nature of the novel. When you read a good novel, how real are the characters ? How real are the characters to each other ? Or the author ? Do we , each one of us, have a tangible reality, or are we all just a summary of how everyone else sees us ?
Is there a clearcut border between the writer and the people he creates ? Or do they create him?
This book, like the one before it, has a long literary ancestry. You can find Laurence Sterne here, James Joyce for wordplay, Dickens for intricate plotting, Chaucer for coarse humour and sex and Melville for mind boggling weirdness. Oh- and Pirandello for theatricality.
Did I enjoy it ? Well it all depends on what “it” is and who I am doesn’t it- there – you see -the damn thing is infectious.
It’s a great book. And I shall read it again sometime.
But not yet. I need something simple, like the telephone directory.
Lots of characters. Not much plot though. Never mind.