Book info

I'll Let You Go (2003)

I'll Let You Go (2003)
3.84 of 5 Votes: 3
0812968476 (ISBN13: 9780812968477)
random house trade paperbacks
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I'll Let You Go (2003)
I'll Let You Go (2003)

About book: During the 17th and 18th centuries, Holland was one of the richest countries on Earth - and when there are rich people, there are artists and artisans who craft and sell to them. A new painting style emerged, the still life (or nature morte in French), that was all the rage. Sumptuous displays of flowers (Amaryllis, Rose e.g.) and displays of household items or food were common subjects.But wait a minute. There was something else in these still lifes that the Dutch made a peculiar obsession about. There were decayed blossoms, or rotted food, or predatory insects, or skulls (!) mixed in with the ravishing luxurious flowers, velvets, and silver. These were memento moris - or symbols of death amongst life and luxury.And this is what is happening in "I'll Let You Go", a tale to remind you that even in the pleasantest of places (Beverly Hills) there is always one visitor that never leaves (Et in Arcadia Ego). Wagner pulls off a tough feat - how to make you care about the one-percentest of the one-percent while telling a great tale.Dickens (a very huge influence in this book), comparatively, had it easy. Usually the poor were good and the rich were bad (always with exceptions!). But that isn't Wagner's game in this one. There are no obvious satirical points being scored on the cluelessness of the uber-rich (though there is rich satire underneath - like a grubworm in the loam of a Dutch floral still life). Instead, his focus on Death and Transfiguration. There are scads of memento moris spread throughout the book: Cemeteries, Monuments, Decayed Columns and Great Danes (both the short-lived dog and Hamlet). The characters also have obsessions with death. Louis Trotter commissions and collects funeral monuments from hotshot artists and architects to find the right one for after his death. Joyce Trotter is rabid about burying and naming cast away newborns. Genetically-diseased Edward knows his death is coming soon and is preparing for it.All this attention to death gives some gravitas to the wild plots and peregrinations of the characters. Combining elements of Les Misérables, Oliver Twist, Vanity Fair and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with Wagner's knowing but never cynical (for once!) prose gives the reader a lot to nestle in and savor. The only caveat is that the book goes slow near the end as the narrative drive slackens. A little like life (or death), that.
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