The first Little bit of a Big novel…

Just to say I’m joining in the readalong  of the modern classic fantasy novel Little Big by John Crowley this May, hosted by Dolce Belezza, together with Helen of A Gallimaufry and Tom of Wuthering Expectations.

little big uk pbkI read this book back in the early 1980s when it first came out in paperback – I remember I was drawn to the cover (left) with those blues and violets like a magnet. It’s 25 years old this year, and it’s fair to say I’ve forgotten almost everything about the actual novel. I almost exclusively read fantasy and science fiction back in those days, devouring without remembering much of it.

little big pbk

The edition I currently own (rescued from a charity shop) has more of a Gothic feel to the cover with the sepia photograph and gives me the impression somehow of being an American version of Gormenghast (which wouldn’t be a bad thing?). We’ll see, but it begins thus:

On a certain day in June, 19–, a young man was making his way on foot northward from the great City to a town or place called Edgewood, that he had been told of but had never visited. His name was Smoky Barnable, and he was going to Edgewood to get married; the fact that he walked and didn’t ride was one of the conditions placed on his coming there at all.

Given Little, Big‘s reputation as one of the best fantasy novels of the later 20th century, I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck into the world of Smoky Barnable and Daily Alice Drinkwater once more.

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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below (affiliate link):
Little, Big (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) by John Crowley, 1981. Gollancz paperback, 560 pages.

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8 thoughts on “The first Little bit of a Big novel…

  1. I must admit to preferring the sepia cover, which I, too, have from a used book shop. But, unlike you, I’ve never read it. This is my first time through, and I cannot put it down. I began it May 1 to be certain to have the time, and I will just keep reading until I’m done. However, I won’t put up thoughts until the middle of May and the end of May, while I eagerly look for thoughts from others such as yourself. There’s much to discuss already! So glad you’re reasing with us, Annabel.

  2. I’ve read this only once and forgotten almost everything about it too. I know I liked it — I wonder how it will be this time around? Looking forward to the readalong.

  3. Oddly enough, I think I prefer the old cover! Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  4. Now this book really is a mystery to me. A friend lent me her copy a couple of years ago (not nearly as nice-looking as the violet one up top, I must say!), swearing I would love it. I tried to read it. Really, I did. But it sounded all wrong to me. I couldn’t figure out what kind of world it was, where on earth Smoky was going, who he was… and it bugged me. Plus, I confess I didn’t like the style of writing at all. So I gave up after a chapter. Was I wrong? Is it truly that good? Must I really try again? The thought fills me with anything but enthusiasm…

  5. I love the purple cover! (I have the sepia one, it is nice too.)

    Florence, I’m sorry but you must try again. You just have to get used to the uncertainty and weirdness. Gavel. 🙂

  6. Here is the argument against the sepia cover. I am, however, reading the book in the ugliest edition ever published, the QPB Book Club edition, so who am I to complain?

    When I can’t figure out what is going on, I say good, finally, a writer who wants me to do something. If you want, this book gives a reader a lot to do. In places, the style gets as close to Nabokov as I have ever seen from an American writer, even Edmund White.

  7. Pingback: Little Big Readalong update | Annabel's House of Books

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