Black Swan Green (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
English author David Mitchell never writes the same book twice. After publishing three novels of varied and complicated structure, he returns to a simple linear storyline, producing what is usually a writer’s first novela semi-autobiographical account of a young person’s coming of age. With its precocious teenage narrator and a chronicle filled with British slang and actual events of 1982, Black Swan Green has been compared to J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951). The careful structure is still there: thirteen chapters set in consecutive months, the first and last bearing the same title, but done so subtly that a reader might miss it. In each chapter Jason Taylor, the youth in question, learns a new and uncomfortable truth, so that the book could well be subtitled Jason’s Progress.
Jason, the narrator of Black Swan Green, pretends to be more sophisticated than he really is but, in fact, is charmingly innocent. He does not know how to attract a girlfriend and fails to understand most off-color remarks, although he knows enough not to ask questions. Living in the Worcestershire village of Black Swan Green, whose one joke is that there are no swans, Jason is the very picture of a self-conscious, desperate-not-to-be-different adolescent. To his chagrin, his voice is still changing; occasionally he squeaks. Among his endearing qualities are his stammer, his lucky red underpants, and his fondness for his...
(The entire section is 1827 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
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The Economist 378, no. 8472 (April 8, 2006): 82.
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(The entire section is 63 words.)