The LitFest Blog
Both of my parents are literature professors, and so I grew up with a house full of books and a taste for the classics of Western literature; my parents used to quote Emily Dickinson at the dinner table and regularly discuss the symbolic meaning of the white whale in Moby Dick. Some of my favorite books, like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Washington Square, by Henry James, are pretty well-known to any Literature 101 Student in the United States.
But one of my favorite books of all-time has to be Little, Big, by John Crowley, which is much less-known (bafflingly so, in my opinion). It’s a weird book, in many ways: an amalgam of realism and mysticism and magical realism and fantasy; a domestic drama and a story in which fish might be enchanted fairies and fortunes are read via tarot cards; a gorgeous, lush, bizarre book that spans multiple generations of the same family and moves back and forth through time. I always recommend it to fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Salmon Rushdie, but though Crowley comes from some of the same traditions as both authors (whom I love), he seems somehow dreamier, more intimate, more ethereal. The beauty of the imagery alone warrants a read, but it’s in Crowley’s meditations on family and loss, love and grief and the workings of the human heart, that the book truly transcends.