15 October 2009
Robertson Davies: FIFTH BUSINESS (& Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!)
There's an interesting trend emerging here: around Canada Day this summer, I elected to read a book by Canadian writer Robertson Davies--The Manticore. Come Canadian Thanksgiving just this Monday, I was making my way into another Davies novel, from the same trilogy of books--Fifth Business. I wonder... should I just go for it, and read the final book in the trilogy (World of Wonders) around Statute of Westminster Day in December? To be honest, I most likely should, and probably will (unless my annual winter Dickens gets the way, which it very well might. Funny story: I read more than half of David Copperfield curled up on the chilly tile floor of a poorly-heated Budapest bathroom, following my ingestion of some excellent but apparently tainted nut roll outside the Hungarian parliament [largest parliamentary building in all of Europe, I might add]. Like I said, just a funny story, has nothing to do with this entry-review-whathaveyou). Anyway, let's get back to Fifth Business, a book read largely in snippets on my breaks at work, over lunches, and once sitting in the car on Route 73 in New Jersey waiting for a drawbridge to close. I won't bother going into what the "fifth business" is--you'll learn in time, should you choose to read this book. Not much time, either, as you find out essentially before beginning to read the actual story. But listen: go back a few months, and check out my review of The Manticore, because this is much the same story, retold from a different perspective and thus with different emphases, but much the same story nonetheless. It answers a few more questions than The Manticore, and opens up a few more as well, some of which will no doubt be answered in World of Wonders (again, just another aspect of the same tale). An important point about this book: to be entirely honest, despite my being a bit confused whilst reading The Manticore, and despite its actually being the second book in this trilogy (and Fifth Business the first), if I had to do it over again, I'd still read The Manticore first, to be followed by Fifth Business. This would not only leave the mystery of The Manticore intact, it would also make the revelations to be found in Fifth Business that much more revelatory. A+ for this book, most definitely. It comes highly recommended by me.