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Posted July 5, 2004
A perfect balancing act
Whether you prefer plot-driven stories, character-driven stories, or stories with gorgeous sentences that dance in your head, I definitely recommend Cathy Day's debut. I recently finished reading 'The Circus in Winter' recently and LOVED it. It's the best book I've read since Amy Tan's ¿The Bonesetter's Daughter¿ and joins the short list of books that have made me cry (only seven). As good as the individual stories are, the cumulative effect of the stories is so much stronger and novelistic. Excitement, mystery, drama, humor, everything you could ever want is here. By the end of the book when a descendant of circus folk revisits the town and walks around the cemetery, we know all the people ourselves and they are our ghosts too. My favorite characters were Wallace Porter and Jennie Dixianna--it was great how they kept coming back, perceived differently by everyone, like presiding spirits, unofficial king and queen of the circus. 'The King and His Court' is the story that really gave me goosebumps, and I think probably the best one. Overall, the prose manages that difficult balancing act between a conversational tone and flourishes of poetry. My favorite sentence was at the very end of ¿Jennie Dixianna¿: ¿This was her story--a collage of broken glass from a thousand shattered bottles, and each new shard made her stronger and more beautiful.¿
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