I find choosing favourites soooo difficult. I am drawn to so many varied and completely incomparable things that I always have to qualify my ‘favourite’ thing. This especially goes for books. How can you compare a Jane Austen novel to a science fiction novel? But I am so lucky to live in a world with easy access to both. I can choose a favourite from the bookshelf according to my appetite at the time.
Except that, and here’s a big statement, I have come to realise that this may be my favourite book. Ever.
‘Little Big’ by John Crowley. I first read it many, many years ago. For a long time, my favourite book was the first John Crowley novel I ever read, called ‘Engine Summer’. I still love that book too. I have two copies of that one, both of which are on loan to friends at this moment (boy, I hope I get them back!). I have three copies of ‘Little Big’, two paperbacks of the edition you see here, and one hard cover I found at a book market. Have you ever loved a book so much, you just CAN’T leave it on the opp shop shelf or market stall, even though you already have it?
Anyway. I have read this many times and it never fails to intrigue me. It is a fantasy novel, but no swords and dragons here. The story I can most closely compare it to is ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
Having read many of Crowley’s works now, some recurring themes appear. The end of civilisation. The re-imagining of the past. The fluidity of history. The role of the innocent in great events. Sex. Drugs. Alchemy. Signs and portents. Love. People living their lives through momentous times without even realising it, like little boats tossed by huge seas. Nothing that hasn’t been written about before, but the beautiful writing and layered use of texts -think ‘Possession’, only much better- always weaves a spell on me.
Note to LL: I know you already have read it, on my recommendation. But for anyone else… I may have a spare copy I can loan you.