The Longest Chapter: A stunning engagement with Malarky
Kassie Rose, an NPR book critic, has written a stundering understanding and contemplation of Malarky at the Longest Chapter. It is an engagement with and a reading of the book that actively humbles me because of the degree of thought invested in it. Please read it.
The latter third of Malarky, by virtue of the fragmented form practically overlaying the prose and the prose responding to that form further, requires attentive reading. The prose refuses to oblige neatly. Instead it unremittingly mimics Our Woman’s state of mind and flux. This demands of the reader, it demands they go beyond what the earlier parts of the book offered more comfortably and it’s precisely at this point in the book some reviewers have disengaged. I find this curious, mostly, because this is where the engagement with the overall form becomes rewarding. And it’s where the more ambitious writing in the book shows up!
In Kassie Rose’s read/critique of the book rather than disengage she upped her already considerable engagement and sewed the whole thing together! Truly remarkable. Reminds me of something way more important than writing and that is the importance of ambition in my own reading.
Below is the final paragraph from the review: click it and read the entire piece. It’s an amazing engagement with my book. I hope such ambition infests me in my own reading.
And so it gets back to those last lines. When we reach them, everything comes full circle, especially regarding something Philomena says in the first episode: “If you are a widow, be careful what you say. I think it’s why they started talking about Jimmy in the bank.” You won’t know what that bank reference means when you first read it, but you will, eventually, and it’s a stunning construct. Indeed, it all makes sense within this crazy-sad theater of a grieving mind that’s a forceful showcase for such things in life. Schofield’s brilliant storytelling in Malarky is among the most engaging I’ve ever encountered.