Reading in Recovery: Fourth of July Creek
As Gillian alluded to in an earlier post, we both took an extended break from writing for the blog due to a serious illness on my part, requiring a seven month hospital stay. I am happy to be recovering at home now.
While initially I was in no state to read, physically or mentally, sometime around September I managed to start reading again. And with not a lot of other options to do at the hospital, I managed to get a fair bit done. I met and fell in love with Lee Child’s writing, and learned I could devour a Jack Reacher novel in a single day. Beyond that, only two novels have really stood out to me in the time I restarted reading.
Number one was the first book I read – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Short, but incredibly packed, this novel genuinely scared me more than any thriller ever has. I highly recommend it.
The second book was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. I don’t even have words to describe how much I enjoyed this book. It is simply incredible writing. The characters are all deliciously complex, real, and very imperfect. It’s hard to really like any one of them, but they all compel.
The setting is unique and interesting. How many novels do we have starring social workers? The dichotomy played off of the lead’s work and family life isn’t subtle, but it is well done and painful to follow.
Topping off all this is the highly stylized writing itself. I firmly believe language is a tool to be bent and shaped to convey a message, not a rigid set or rules to be abided by. Henderson follows this path – I’ve seen many other reviews reference him as Faulkneresque – he bends words and syntax extensively to get his point across.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s easily one of my top books of all time.