February 21, 2007


Antoine Wilson

Nice review, Stephan.

I, too, feel that Ulinich "shows many of the talents needed to write a great "big book" in the future." And that her characters & story would have been better served had she let Petropolis "expand to Tolstoy-like dimensions."

It's an interesting case--the Asbestos 2 section shows what kind of depth she's capable of, I think, when she's not as concerned with moving the story along.

BTW, I reviewed the book in Sunday's LA Times. It's pleasing to find another reader (a more articulate one, even!) with a similar take on the book.



Thanks, Antoine. I did see your review, when checking to see if anyone else was looking at this book. You're right about the Asbestos 2 section -- though there's so much character movement in that first 100 pages, it feels full of story to me. Then the question is, what is story? Me, I can find complete happiness in the slow realization of "back-stories," interesting family histories, in how they converge with the stories of nations and the present day -- all that stuff done so well by Dickens, Zadie Smith, John Irving, TC Boyle, Chabon, and countless others. Is there a way to tell the story of a novel entirely in back-story? I kind of wish there was. Because so often that's what's interesting about a character: how they came to be, not what they do with who they are. Or something like that.

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