brianreynolds

I tend to rate or describe books in terms of “story” since that seems fundamental to fiction. In that respect alone, <i>I See You Everywhere</i> by Julia Glass is disappointing. While its genesis is a collection of separately published short stories (signalled by the repeated brief but unnecessary backstory passages where the first-person narrator babbles about things the novel-version reader already knows) there is a compelling and consistent narrative that ties each titled story/chapter together. In the broadest sense, one could build a case for the whole thing being a comedy of sorts where two sisters who fail for the most part to appreciate each other, finally do. But the fact that, in the end, one of them is no longer living, gives the whole thing much more the feel of a eulogy than a celebration of their union.

To stop there, however, would be a great disservice to a piece of literature that is brilliant in its development of character and its sense of timing. Even on the first, somewhat confusing pages where I struggled to grasp the alternating points of view, I was aware of the treat in store regarding its duet of feminine “voices.” I recalled vividly a time in my own life, a half-century ago, when a then-famous writer dragged me through a porch window in order to eavesdrop on “what women say to each other.” At the time I had no real appreciation of how exclusive and intricate that conversation could be. And here it is in print, in prose that sensually delights, prose so honest I sometimes felt embarrassed to be overhearing ii. The scenes Glass creates can bring both tears of sadness and joy. I laughed aloud in places. In short, if indeed this is “only” a eulogy, it’s a damn fine one.

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