Thursday, December 15, 2005


I've just been emotionally devastated by a novel. I'm talking about sitting down on the floor and just weeping. I couldn't even breathe. Ugh! I haven't felt that way since my own dear grandmother died. Yes, I'm serious. I cried over a novel as if someone close to me had died. Talk about catharsis! Art is just such an absolutely incredible thing.

The book was The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault.

I have to think that some of my emotions came from the beautiful and agonizing homosexual relationship that forms the spine of the novel. Still, it's a really good story in itself. I would even call it fairly high literature—at least some of the best historical fiction I have ever read.

It seems that most of the people who don't like this story (on Amazon) mainly just have a problem with compound sentences (ignoring the homophobes, anyway). As one otherwise positive reviewer wrote: "The language was very difficult to get through. I had to re-read a lot of passages to get the gist." Are you kidding? This guy must be used to reading Stephen King. Personally, I find Renault's writing to be positively breezy, but maybe that's because I've already made it through Henry James, Tolstoy, et al., in the name of literary fortitude.

I should warn anyone who might happen upon this review (*minor spoiler follows*): This story is patterned after typical Greek tales, so don't expect the gods to be any more kind than usual.

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