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Last night, I finished reading Alexander Chee's fine first novel, Edinburgh. Then I wrote to the author, who happens to be at the MacDowell colony at the moment. I had first come across his work in From Boys to Men. But it was someone's recently mentioning him at a blog that prompted me to order his book from Amazon. Who could that someone be? It didn't take long to identify the evilganome - although I can't for the life of me locate the particular entry.

Edinburgh starts off brightly, with a successful singing audition, and it holds this tone ever more tightly as the story very shortly takes a turn for the horrific. The writing is lyrical but firmly controlled. Attention is required: the terrible things are only mentioned once, in a flash, and if you're not careful you might skim over them.

Mr Chee has a new book, Queen of the Night, coming out soon*, and I am going to wait for it before writing up Edinburgh, which I may re-read after Queen. I do, however, want to share this magnificent paragraph.

Do you remember what it was like, to be young? You do. Was there any innocence there? No. Things were exactly what they looked like. If anyone tries for innocence, it's the adult, moving forward, forgetting. If innocence is ignorance of the capacity for evil, then it's what adults have when they forget what it's like to be a child. When they look at a child and think of innocence they are thinking of how they can't remember what that feels like. 

I recommend this book very highly.

* Autumn 2008.


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Thank you for sharing that beautiful passage.

I am so happy that my book recommendation worked out so well. I too am anxiously awaiting Queen of the Night. Mr. Chee is an amazing writer in my opinion, and I love the way that he wove myth and event together. I want to go back and re-read it now.

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