Books and Reviews at Greenberry House

Like most booksellers, reading is a large part of my life here at Greenberry House. I have a special old chair, so worn that it sags, where I love to curl up with a good book. Old favorites, exciting new writers, spiritual or challenging, fiction or fact; all pass through my hands and many are worthy of comment. I plan an occasional mention here of a recent book I've read, either to recommend or to warn!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, Random House, 2007

Most of the books I read about English life are either written or set in the peaceful English countryside of the past centuries. Black Swan Green is also set in the English countryside, but in a modern world that is far from peaceful.

Jason Taylor is a poet that is afraid of being bullied if his peers find out that he writes, and a regular thirteen-year-old boy facing the usual perils of adolescence. He lives in an ordinary housing development near a sleepy village, but in the thirteen months of his life explored in this book, he discovers that things are not nearly as ordinary in Black Swan Green as they seem.

Jason's journey through that year of his life is a struggle with school, a stuttering handicap and bullies, and with changes in his family and in himself. These are the usual rites of passage that might happen to any boy, but in Mitchell's novel the common moves along with the uncommon, as a ghostly playmate helps set the theme for the coming chapters. Jason wanders from the ordinary world of his affluent housing development into a stranger, older England, with strange mysteries and even stranger people. But even as Jason discovers a wider, mystical country alongside his own modern world, the common transforms the fantasy, and is transformed as well.

Ghosts often haunt David Mitchell's books, but the ghosts in Black Swan Green are more elusive than usual. The modern mind seems to shun mystery, creating an ordinary world out of the routine of daily life. Mitchell captures the glimpses of the extraordinary that exist alongside the common, with a beautifully written story of one young life in rural Worcestershire.

Buy this book from Greenberry House.

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