This week's reading was only forty pages long, so this post will be short and sweet. There are some longer readings coming up in the next few weeks.
I love the precious descriptions of the snowy upstate New York towns, and the way they tend to populate themselves with loveable little eccentrics. (Let the record reflect that this is one literary cliche of which I will never tire.) Virginia Gamely, raised in a super-literate household in the middle of the sticks, voyages to New York City on one of the coldest days of the winter. She has to skate down a river just to get to a steamboat, and, once she arrives, she finds out that the boat is trapped on an iceberg. Her weight, and that of her son, are just enough to crack the ice and free the ship, which then makes its way to New York City post haste. Once they arrive, Virginia and her son have their "rubes' first day in New York" moments, and, by chance, ends up running into Jessica Penn, daughter of Issac Penn and the younger sister of the late Beverly Penn, who starred in the first book of the novel. She introduces them to a group of high-society newspaper publishers, and her vocabulary and insight lead to an on-the-spot job offer, writing about the city from an outsider's perspective. If only landing a full-time writing gig in the city was still that easy!
The writing in this chapter was really beautiful - probably the prettiest yet in the novel. Things are so lovingly described, with such fine attention to detail, that I forgive Helprin his occasional scene of telling us what the characters are thinking, instead of showing us. I could tell that a lot of foreshadowing was going on, and that the seeds of some larger themes were planted, but its still too early to tell which of them will become important; to tell what details are meant as symbolism instead of, for instance, mere quirk.
As for the characters, I'm already missing Peter Lake and Beverly Penn, but the characters of Book Two are endearing enough in their own right to hold me over. I get the feeling there is a major character who is about to be introduced . . . but that's mere speculation at this point.
Do any of you think you know where the novel is going to go? Have you picked up on any new themes in Book 2? If so, please share!