– Erin O’Connor has discovered the wonder that is Shirley Hazzard’s Transit of Venus. She gets further than I ever did in explaining what makes the novel so palpably different from other books one reads, what gives it its unmistakable aura:
The novel cannot be read quickly and still be read well. Its nuance demands a dipping method of reading, in which the reader stops reading frequently to consider what she has just read, and in which the reader routinely disrupts her forward progress to reread a passage whose precision cannot fully be grasped at once. It’s a rare and exquisite pleasure to read this way and to be rewarded for it, a reminder that nothing is ever bland, and that the closer one attends to the details of life, the more there is to see, to know, and to feel.
I received for Christmas the Hazzard novel you never hear about, The Bay of Noon. I’ve read just a few pages and won’t be able to return to it anytime very soon. My brief initial foray revealed the fine writing and keen eye I would have expected–but not that, you know, that thing (snaps fingers). That thing is a rare thing. Truth be told, it would be a little disappointing to find out it’s replicable.