Matt Bell’s debut novel is a fairy tale that beautifully uses its words to tell the tale of a man and a woman coming together, coming apart and then coming together again. Bell’s use of language has been compared to my beloved Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges and while there are parallels, Bell doesn’t have the sense of story possessed by the other two. His intricate descriptions are just that and as a reader you can feel that those descriptions don’t add anything to the novel as a whole.
But the language is beautiful.
But it runs on for longer than it should.
It just wasn’t for me. But it might be for you.
My opinion may be tainted by the first section of the book; as a person in the midst of certain life experiences, it can be difficult to read a narrator’s account of those same experiences as he describes them without the warmth or pain or empathy that (I hope) a real person might have in their tone. Maybe that first bit just made me too sad and the book was doomed from there on in.
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods gets 1/5 Hemingways.