Friday, October 13, 2006

Was Tolstoy so wrong?

Rachel Kadish's Tolstoy Lied opens:
There it is. Right there on the novel’s first page. Right there in the first line, staring the reader in the face. A lie.

Nothing against Tolstoy. I’m an admirer. I simply happen to believe he’s responsible for the most widely quoted whopper in world literature.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Kadish is probably right, and I do look forward to reading Tolstoy Lied.

Neverthless, I was reminded of the Tolstoy line when I read the latest entry in the Kingsley and Martin Amis painful saga, which continues in public even without the participation of either writer. Is there another family unhappy in the way of the Amis clan?

The whole sad story puts me in mind of Larkin's "This Be The Verse." (Larkin of course was a friend of Kingsley.)

Martin Amis' latest novel, House of Meetings, is due out in the U.S. in January.

Click here to read an excerpt from Rachel Kadish's Tolstoy Lied.

--Marshal Zeringue