Friday, December 7, 2007
Every Past Thing by Pamela Thompson
Every Past Thing is a very complicated book. I can’t say that I liked the book as a whole, but the more I read, the more I became wrapped up in the novel. This is not a novel to curl up with on a rainy day and get lost in. It is a very difficult read, at times painfully boring. Pamela Thompson’s prose is dense and challenging, but altogether beautiful. She is a very talented writer. She needs to be taken in small bites and savored, chewed on for a bit. By the end of the novel I cared very deeply for Mary and Edwin. Their discontent was palpable, so much that it made me uncomfortable at times.
One of the things I loved about this novel was the way Thompson revealed little bits at a time about Mary and Elmer’s past. You really didn’t learn the whole story about the relationship between Mary, Elmer, and Elmer’s brother Samuel until the very end.
I thought she handled Mary’s “search” for Jimmy Roberts, a man she had a brief relationship many years before, artfully. I quote “search” because I don’t feel Mary was really looking for Jimmy as much as hoping she might encounter him. And the near misses were brilliant.
Thompson’s inclusion of Emerson quotes throughout the novel delighted me, although I still find him very difficult to read.
When I first started this book, up until maybe 2/3 of the way through it, I thought I would never recommend it to anyone. So dry, so difficult. But something happened near the end. I now say, pick it up if you’re brave. Be willing to give it some time. Just bury yourself in it, and find Thompson’s rhythm. It might surprise you.