The Short Review: Beautiful. Epic and Intimate, this book deals with difficult subject matter in an elegant way. I recommend to everyone.
The Long Review: I started this after reading Chee’s essay collection, "How To Write An Autobiographical Novel". In the essay collection, he talks at one point about writing this book, and the ways writers will sometimes draw from their own experiences for their first novel. In some ways, it made it harder to read Edinburgh, knowing the heartbreaking connections between the author and the main character. However, Edinburgh is not a thinly veiled memoir. It is it’s own work, and despite the difficult subject matter, I think it’s one that everyone should give a try.
The writing is absolutely gorgeous. It happens maybe once a year that I read a book and become so intensely obsessed with the authors use of language. Actually, the last time I was this head over heels for an authors prose, it was Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. Chee has such a unique voice and the way he explains the characters thoughts and views of the world is breath-taking.
The structure of the story is interesting, too. I wasn’t expecting it to unfold how it did. This isn’t a mystery really, unless you consider the discovery of how a traumatic event shapes a characters life to be a mystery. In a way, it is. That’s probably why I found it so compelling and couldn’t put it down. And the imagery, the moments burned into your brain and staying there…I literally cannot articulate how amazing it was.
If you’re a fan of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Edinburgh has a similarity in it’s heartbreak and the difficult subject matter. I will say, Edinburgh is a little easier and filled with less melodrama (I love A Little Life, and see no problem with melodrama—just clarifying). If you liked the poetic writing and how short What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell was, there’s a few similarities in that. Anyway, this is my little review of this little perfect book, and I hope you choose to read it. If you have read it, i’d love to know your thoughts!