These two authors, seemingly, have little in common. Well, they do have one thing: me. I recently finished reading Lispector's The Hour of the Star and, immediately afterwards, Robert Crais' The Sentry.
Lispector's is a short story, Crais' a full novel, and I would say that they function at completely different ends of the fiction-writing spectrum. Yet I was perplexed by my own relationship to each of these books and wanted to work my way through those feelings. It took me the best part of three weeks to finish The Hour of the Star, whereas I managed The Sentry in around one. Crais specialises in a kind of page-turning action-hero-with-a-heart thriller, based around the LA private detective Elvis Cole and his un-readable partner in crime, Joe Pike, and has churned out around twenty novels over the past thirty years. I have read most of them. I assume his books are popular, but I don't know this.
The Hour of the Star was my first encounter with Lispector, an author I had been meaning to tackle for some time. I'm not sure if because of the rhythms and cadences, the constant shift between narrator and protagonist, but reading it was hard, albeit rewarding, work. I was reminded of Jeanette Winterson in terms of the fluid use of time and very individualistic use of language, and this I liked very much; the immersion in an alternative reality, a different and singular world of grammar and language. It made a refreshing change.
Both books gave me pleasure in their own way. With Crais, one knows what one is getting and that, presumably, is part of the comfort. One buys into that world and goes with it. Accepts it. Lispector's voice intrigued me and was challenging and rewarding in equal measure. The important thing for me is to recognise that liking both is okay, while at the same time also recognising that I should push myself a little bit harder to enjoy that which is challenging and, possibly more rewarding.