Thursday, July 13, 2006

No More Lull

I am so excited about the book I started reading last night. I love it when a book I have been looking forward to turns out to be good right from the start. So often there is a sense of trepidation for the first chapter or two especially if things get off to a rocky beginning. But no rocky start here. I had no idea what The Player's Boy by Bryher was about, all I knew is that I wanted to read Bryher and I wanted to read Bryher because of H.D. H.D.'s book length poem, Helen in Egypt is amazing. It tells the story of Helen who some say never went to Troy but was taken by Zeus to Egypt. H.D. and Bryher were lovers and even had this weird three-way relationship going on that included Bryher's husband with all three of them living together for quite some time. But Bryher is also a writer in her own right, a novelist mostly. She was rich as well and helped finance authors and artists and the famous Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company. The Player's Boy, the book I began last night starts off in 1605, two years after Queen Elizabeth's death. The player's boy is an actor's apprentice. The story starts with the master player on his deathbed. While he is ill, he isn't breathing his last yet, even Shakespeare manages to give a dying actor lengthy soliloquies. Master Awsten is feeling chatty and tells his apprentice, Sands, about some of his own adventures when he was an apprentice. The conversation is sprinkled with phrases from plays and ballads. The language is straightforward and modern yet with just enough flare to impart an Elizabethan feel. According to the introduction, Bryher was fluent in Elizabethan English and worked hard to get the language and style for the book right without making it seem overdone. And thus far, I can say it is a success. There are wonderful sentences that pop out at me, things like:

"Rubies dissolve but not my smarting thoughts," he murmured, as if he recognised what he did. "But memories, child, these burn."
I like that, memories burn. Maybe it pops out at me more since I am reading Proust which is all about memory. I love it when books whisper to each other.