The hero of this one of a kind novel is Russel Darlington, a born naturalist and an unlikely romantic hero We meet him in the year 1895 a seven year old boy first glimpsed chasing a frog through an Indiana swamp And we follow this idealistic, appealing man for nearly forty years into college and over the Rockies in pursuit of a new species of butterfly through a clumsyThe hero of this one of a kind novel is Russel Darlington, a born naturalist and an unlikely romantic hero We meet him in the year 1895 a seven year old boy first glimpsed chasing a frog through an Indiana swamp And we follow this idealistic, appealing man for nearly forty years into college and over the Rockies in pursuit of a new species of butterfly through a clumsy courtship and into a struggling marriage across the Pacific, where on a tiny, rainy island he suffers a nightmarish accident through the deaths of friends and family and into a seemingly hopeless passion for an unapproachable young woman.Darlington s Fall is ultimately a love story It is written in verse that vivid, accessible, and lush imparts an intensity to the story and its luminous gallery of characters Russel s rich, taciturn, up right, guilt driven father Miss Kraus, his formidable housekeeper Ernst Schrock, his maddening, gluttonous mentor and Pauline Beaudette, the beautiful, ill starred girl who becomes his wife Leithauser s embracingly compassionate outlook invites us into their world into a past so sharply realized it feels like the present.In Darlington s Fall, Brad Leithauser offers an ingeniously plotted story and the virtues long associated with his elegant stanzas wit, music, and a keen eye for the natural world His independent careers as novelist and poet come together brilliantly here, producing something rare and wonderful in the landscape of contemporary American writing a book that bends borders, a happy marriage of poetry and fiction.From the Hardcover edition.
Darlington s Fall A novel in verse The hero of this one of a kind novel is Russel Darlington a born naturalist and an unlikely romantic hero We meet him in the year a seven year old boy first glimpsed chasing a frog through an In
with drawings by Mark Leithauserdedication: For Mary Jofor whom I fellOpening: In time he came to see his lifeAs borne by a pair of wings unequal to the weightOf all his dreams. He fell. First air then leaves,Slipping, branches that might of held him, snapping instead,And he hit the grounnd, and tumbled down a hole,Through a rib cage opened like a tomb,Somersaulting over buried family lives,Towns, taxonomies, down the scaateered wrecksOf outsize extictinctions, and reached the salt shores of Hel [...]
Quite simply this is one of the most stunning technical achievements in literature. The rhymes are effortlessly casual and don't really follow any pattern except that each line in a stanza gets a rhyme within that same stanza. Damn good story too -- about a naturalist named Russell Darlington and the various ways in which he falls: a literal fall while chasing butterflies which leaves him crippled; falling in love with the wrong woman; a spiritual fall; and so on.
A novel-in-verse, loosely tied stanzas of ten lines each. Not as technically strict as some other long verse I've read, but that allowed Leithauser to almost entirely avoid the clunky passages that haunt even the best poets when they take on long poetry. Some truly beautiful passages in this. A pleasure.
Besides being written entirely in verse (even a horrible bout of diarrhea is made poetic), Leithauser succeeds in conveying a vignette about humans' awe of the universe, particularly when it comes to the "butterfly" effects that influence ancestry and love.
What a stunning novel in verse - not as charming as The Golden Gate but wonderfully evocative
truly an incredible achievement -- leithauser creates a beautiful ode to science and nature that reads like a novel without losing its poetic heart.