i can't talk about whistle stop without thanking karen for turning me onto maritta wolff, a writer who really should be more well known. check out karen's evangelizing review here. join us, and testify!
here's my hallelujah:
when you read a maritta wolff novel, it feels like she is gently holding your ear against a thin tenement wall of permeable words, pushing you into her world, overhearing her characters, knowing more than what they'd want you to know. she also transmits to you her deep understanding of human character, and ability she has to imbue it in the people she helps you to subsume. the fact that she was 22(!) when she wrote this novel, only makes me beam at the seduction of her prose, and the gravity of her spirit, seemingly wise beyond her years. but there is no other explanation for it.
she conjures with clarity the veech family in all its boisterous devotion, devotion that pushes beyond comfort to disturbingly intimate. i've come to think of them as lolita family robinson although it's imprecise: the little girl in the book is certainly no nymphet, the creepiness of her character and the mysteries around her parentage, and the parentage of those around her spin, the keys that i aim to keep spoiler-free, in this review. i feel pretty sure that what i think is true, is true and if so, yeesh. (non sequitur: and what about the boarder?!? i didn't know what to think!) so there's for why the book reminds me lolita. as for the family robinson: the veeches struggling through life in socioeconomic wreck but with that loving family spirit i connect with the film i saw on wide world of disney. the family really love each other, and they're messed up, sure. but they've been through a lot, and sometimes it's hard to keep still when you can't settle down.
maritta wolff writes with a vivid stroke. i want to read more. i notice little obsessions: trains figure almost as dei ex machina in her books, ready to pitch in to further along her story. did she always do that? i guess i'll see. :)