The Giant's House: A Romance (1996)
Granta Top 20 Authors Under 40
Peggy Cort is the 25 year old overly-anal librarian of a Cape Cod town. As the novel opens, in 1950, she's willingly settling into an emotionally stunted spinsterhood, but then James Carlson Sweatt walks into the library and into her life. James is an 11 year old with a form of glandular disease that by the end of the novel has turned him into an eight and a half foot tall giant. Peggy becomes obsessed with James and becomes a sort of weird melange of caretaker, mother, fiancé. Inevitably, James is doomed to an early death, at which point McCracken tacks on a truly bizarre coda wherein Peggy is impregnated by James' father, but claims James was the father.
Throughout the novel, McCracken strives for a kind of fairy tale effect and obviously she's trying to say something about the nature of love. However, Peggy, our narrator, is so possessive of James memory that she never really develops his character, never mind the other players in the story. Because of this, if we're not uncomfortable enough with her love for a boy, we never really understand her love. Ultimately, Peggy comes across as a profoundly unbalanced woman, confessing her near psychotic attraction for the much better adjusted James.
McCracken seems like a decent writer, but this book is pretty much of a misfire. It's really hard to see how she could have made this list, especially in light of the meager reach of the book. Suppose, she'd pulled it off & the book was a success, it would still be a trifle and one hopes our best young novelists aren't really setting their sights as low as producing little romantic novels about withdrawn spinsters and giants.
-WIKIPEDIA: Elizabeth McCracken
-AUTHOR SITE: Elizabeth McCracken.com
-INTERVIEW: Elizabeth McCracken on Anna Karenina, Yiyun Li, and Hating The Velveteen Rabbit: RAPID-FIRE BOOK RECS FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE SOUVENIR MUSEUM (BookMarks, 1/18/22)
Book-related and General Links:
-Comments on Great Expectations (Salon Magazine)
-Interview (from Book Page)
-Profile (from Bold Type)
-INTERVIEW : The Novelist-Librarian: An Interview With Elizabeth McCracken (Natter Box)
-Readers Guide (Avon Books)
-Peggy and Goliath (Review from NY Times)
-REVIEW : of The Giant's House : A Tall Tale; Elizabeth McCracken's first novel; in which a librarian goes for the oversize edition (Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe)
-REVIEW : of The Giant's House (Richmond Review)
Copyright 1998-2015 Orrin Judd