Thursday, March 31, 2011

"The Little Book," by Selden Edwards

In "The Little Book" what comes round goes round and round and round...and comes back again.

Shelden Edward's novel is an exquisite time machine that feeds itself events which provide the impulse for later events, and earlier ones, too.

We have before us a case for the interrelatedness between persons and epochs alike.

The main trunk to this story, with significant secondary branches, follows '70s hippy rocker Wheeler Burden on a time travel trip through the fin de siecle Vienna of Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Gustav Mahler.

Edwards brings to life the intellectual ferment that powered the Austrian capital’s rise to prominence in the worlds of music, philosophy, painting, and psychiatry of the time, without being so smart as to turn off those who've come simply to savor a fine tale.

For texture and plot-thickening, the author takes advantage of his time-travel meme to visit the stuffy and WASPy world of a New England prep school, and the more open-aired environment of the Sacramento Valley.

While dabbling in matters both deep and cosmetic, mixing Frisbees with Austrian empresses, and '70s rock with the rise of anti-Semitic thought in Europe, this complex novel sustains a comfortable readability throughout.

The author is masterful in his handling of deep and important subjects in a most entertaining way.

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