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First Novels
by W.P. Kinsella

Ticknor by Sheila Heti (House of Anansi, $19.95, 109 pages, ISBN:0887841910). Here, according to the jacket of this very attractive book, is what it may be about: "George Ticknor has been invited by his oldest friend, William Prescott, to attend a simple dinner party. He is reluctant to go. Prescott's success as a historian, husband, and charming paragon of the Boston social set, sharpens Ticknor's sense of inferiority. Full of distress he sets off into the rain-soaked streets, carrying a pie." I simply found this book unreadable.
Why an author would intentionally set out to make her subject matter impenetrable, baffles me. This novel reminds me of how I tried to read a lesser work by Henry James for a college course. I abandoned it, and happily it wasn't on the exam. Here is an example from the opening sentence of a section: "There was something that you never did that you ought to have done, which is why it has turned out the way it has."

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