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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Solitudes by John Crowley

The Solitudes, part one of Crowley's Aegypt cycle, comes highly recommended. I learned about it from Dirda's book chat, where he declared the books some of the best ever. It is highly praised by any number of well-regarded book critics. It is about Pierce Moffett, a historian specializing in arcane knowledge, who develops the notion that there are other versions of the world that have existed and will exist, that switch in and out leaving only the barest traces of their existence -- "There is more than one history of the world." Moreover, there are all sorts of metaphysical layers; Moffett is inspired to write a book about his notion, a book which appears to already have been written by a local author, but which might also be the Aegypt cycle itself by Crowley. This is exactly the kind of book that I love.

So why couldn't I get into it? I can see why it has been praised by so many, I can see the interesting ideas Crowley is developing. But the book just didn't engage me at all. I dutifully read it every time I was on a train or subway, but never felt the need to pull it out and read just one more page. I don't even know what to write about it now, because it was not a bad book by any means, or even a boring book.

I'm not in a rush to read the other three in the cycle (there are other books I am dying to pick up), but I think I should at least give the second one a shot, sooner rather than later.

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