American Ghosts (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Beginning in the 1970’s, David Plante established himself as a writer singularly occupied with the complicated and competing claims of spiritual and physical influences on human lives. In his novels, especially the widely praised Francoeur trilogyThe Family (1978), The Country (1981), The Woods (1982)he explores the intersections of the visible and invisible, charting the interplay of faith and the body, seeking images that capture the moment when finite material opens up to reveal an infinite reality. The books constitute a sustained quest for wholeness in a fragmented world and for unity in a work of art. (Plante uses this kind of language.) Certainly American Ghosts is yet another attempt, this time stripped of the veil of fiction, to describe how history, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality connect to shape the spiritual life of a writer and his work.
This work irritates as often as it illuminates, feeling willed and protracted, the product of real struggle over many years. While the payoff for the reader is the exhilaration of transcending that struggle, in the text remain too many signs suggesting just how tortuous the path to resolution wassigns detectible in the syntax itself. Few pages unfold with fluency. Sentences, sometimes whole paragraphs, read as if they were literal translations from the German, with curious word order, awkward repetition, extended length, or a turgidity that can momentarily cloud...
(The entire section is 1875 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
America 192, no. 12 (April 4, 2005): 30-31.
Booklist 101, no. 5 (November 1, 2004): 454-455.
Commonweal 132, no. 2 (January 28, 2005): 36-38.
Kirkus Reviews 72, no. 19 (October 1, 2004): 951.
Lambda Book Report 13, nos. 9/10 (April/May, 2005): 6-8.
Library Journal 129, no. 13 (August 15, 2005): 80.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (January 16, 2005): 6.
Publishers Weekly 251, no. 29 (July 19, 2004): 151.
The Times Literary Supplement, December 9, 2005, p. 11.
(The entire section is 44 words.)