Here is a classic novel from one of our most honored writers - the author of such acclaimed works as So Long, See You Tomorrow and All the Days and Nights. The Folded Leaf is the serenely observed yet deeply moving story of two boys finding one another in the Midwest of the 1920s, when childhood lasted longer than it does today and even adults were more innocent of what life could bring.
©1945 William Maxwell (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"A subtle, sensitive, beautifully written story." (Time)
"A quite unconventional novel.... moving and absorbing." (Edmund Wilson)
I was looking for an exemplary piece of fiction from "back then" when plots and character arcs were king. I had heard that Maxwell was an editor of great writers, so I felt "safe" that this would be a terrific read. But I found it boring. There is some suggestion of homosexual love between two friends, and that is handled beautifully in the early sections. Innocent friendship gone intimate and all that. By the end, it was messy and blatant. I am not sure about the importance of the so-called romance, but I am sure that the contrasts between the boys, their upbringing, their current situations were very important. A motherless boy is always good for great character and faulty conceptions of the world.
Maybe because of the time, the sexual relationship could not be more deftly illustrated; I get that. But it was thrown on thick at the end as if the writer wanted to make sure the reader "got it." The sentence about "not liking effeminate men" was the only thing definitely "effeminate" about that particular character.
Am I missing nuances here? I could go back and re-think some scenes and find ways to add homosexual behavior to some, but why? I think that as a book about growing boys, motherless children, poverty and academia, about Chicago and about adolescence, it is just dandy.
I would not recommend this for anyone else to read or listen to -- because it was BORING. The language was lovely, but not stunning. The sentences and the word choices were rather plain.
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