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“A fantastically eloquent portrait of an interesting and troubled mind confronted with beauty, grasping at it for hope and forgetfulness while basking in the glorious present. . . . Winslow in Love is a marvelous book.” –Chicago Tribune
"[A] bitter valentine to self-destruction. . . . Canty has whipped his prose into just the right tone, two parts gravel voice realism, one part looking for a chance at redemption." –The Denver Post
“Raw. Rare. Honest. Beautifully written. Winslow in Love is one of those novels that come along every now and then, making sense of the ruin and rush of our lives. The ongoing dream is to escape towards who we once were—and Winslow, a great broken-down drunken poet, manages to get there with a shattering grace. By avoiding all the clichés, by embracing sentiment without sentimentality, by taking the hard curve, Canty has written a significant American novel. Praise be.”
—Colum McCann, author of Dancer
Later: fat man in the bathtub. This was where he did his thinking, after a fashion, whatever you called it when the brain was trying to surface through a sheen of alcohol. June Leaf was at her studio painting, or whatever she did when she was there, she erased—it seemed like—more than she ever painted. And everything was fine with her after the evening. There were cocktails, which made everything fine.
Winslow floated. There was enough of him to make it perilous to move, there was sloshing and splashing and water spilled on the tile floor of June Leaf's apartment. Though he lived there now, too, though they were as married as they were ever going to get, it was still and would be forever June Leaf's apartment. Until the landlord got them out. Floor by floor, apartment by apartment, the old tenants were leaving and the landlord was remodeling in their wake. The flat below, where Mrs. Esterhazy had said her last words in Hungarian—said them to Winslow, who had found her with a broken hip on the stairs and carried her inside—was now the nest of a pair of cuckoobirds with square granny glasses and the girl had pink hair. Everything was broken.
Winslow watched his dick float limp in the water, his gray seaweed.
Winslow tried to think of what he could tell the children of Athens about poetry. He had not started out feeling like a Latin teacher but by now he did, the lame protest that poetry was good for you, that poetry built intellect and character, that captains of industry and powerful men had all grown up on poetry, stupid enough even if it was not a lie, which it was. The captains of industry had grown up on touch football and beer. They liked red meat and heterosexual sex. Even Mrs. Esterhazy, who could have used a little, had lived and died entirely without poetry. The men at the paper mill where his father had worked, the television-loving millions, they were better off without it. Selling little ego pills: You can make this work, little Susie, little Ned. You can make this somehow matter, though the rest of us have failed.
He would teach them Rilke. They would like Rilke—the sponger, the rich woman's amusement with his angels and vapors. It would serve them right. They would leave him alone. If they didn't like it, he would make them all read Gertrude Stein and then pretend to understand it. What do you mean, little Susie, little Ned, that you don't get it? Why are you so worried about getting it?
Something about the prospect of teaching brought out the sadist in him. But Winslow felt better now. He had a game plan. He nudged the hot-water tap open with his foot and felt the healing waters spill over him, took a sip from the icy glass of scotch on the edge of the tub and settled back again, listening to Ellington in the next room. The bathroom ceiling was almost ten feet high so the heights of the room almost disappeared in the steam, a yellowing waterspotted dimness in the incandescent light, a color out of favor now. Everything was white or blue-white now, all cool and clean. No more octagonal tile, no more wainscoting, no more faintly dirty butter-colored light. We are the bees of the invisible, Rilke said. At times Winslow could almost make sense of it. He lit a cigarette and lay back in the water.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted March 10, 2009
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I will tell you why I picked the book to read. I was looking for a quick read. The idea of the poet having a second chance, after not writing anything in a long time, got to me. He met a girl, who wore a dragon tattoo. He would be travelling across country and falling in love again. Teaching poetry at a school for creatives. These are the things that drew me to my purchase.
I am researching writers and how they write. For a short time, I had a writer's block, so the blank page, that Richard Winslow talks about struck a chord in me. As I read Winslow in Love, a very special thing also happened to me. I woke up from my writer's block and wrote a lot.
Poetry. Short Stories. Ideas for magazine articles.
Even though there are some parts of the book I cannot identify with, I found myself admiring the two travellers on the road towards love, understanding and survival. We have all met some people, whom are barely getting by, not by just monetary means, but by the sheer will to live. Richard actually did something great. I did not expect it to end that way. I really missed them for weeks after I finished it. Awesome read!
I hope that I can be so lucky to find an idea for writing a book some day.