Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Crane Wife

THE CRANE WIFE by Patrick Ness.  Penguin Press, January 2014.

George owns a copy shop.  He is divorced, amicably, and is the proud Grand-Pere of JP.  His life is rather routine,  George spends some of his time doing cuttings from old books. And then one night, a wounded crane appears in his backyard, an arrow through her wing.  Almost certain he is hallucinating, George nevertheless manages to free the arrow from the wing of the crane.  The next day, Kumiko walks through the door of his copy shop asking for his help with her own artwork.  Her pieces are finely wrought cuttings and weavings made of feathers.  They strike George at his core. Soon,the two are inseparable, their work blending into a single, incredible structure that brings them fame and fortune.  But it is not enough for George.  He wants to know Kumiko more intimately.  She seems just a little too elusive even though he knows she loves him and her loves her.  

Many of you know I do not read adult books very often.  How happy I am that I made an exception in this case, and that I had the foresight to pack this into the bag I took as I traveled from Stockholm to Jonkoping and back again, a long lovely train ride.  Somehow the exotic settings (for someone who has never been this far from home) made it possible for me to enter fully into the story of Kumiko and George and the volcano and the crane as well.  The stories glide in and out of each other with ease (and this in Ness' skill as an author of works for children, teens and adults); the magic simply is part of  the story, no questions asked, no eyebrows raised.  

The writing is spare and yet richly detailed (and do not ask me to explain how this is possible. It just is).  And here is the piece I will end with, the short excerpt that had me pause for a while to think about the incredible truth inside these few words:

"Stories do not end."
"Ah, you  are right, but you are also wrong.  They end and they begin every moment.  It is all about when you stop the telling."  p. 273

Order your copy now. 

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