The greatest bowling scene in American literature, worth slipping on a pair of tricolor slippers to read, is almost certainly the one that opens William Kennedy’s novel “Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game” (1978).
Kennedy’s prose has as much mustard on it as does one of Billy’s throws. A substantial bet has been placed. Billy bowls a strike, and it’s “not just another strike, but a titanic blast this time which sent all pins flying pitward, the cleanest of clean hits, perfection unto tidiness, bespeaking power battening on power, control escalating.”
Why there isn’t more bowling writing in our fiction is a mystery. Surely the problem can’t be the game’s relatively low status. (Paul Fussell once proposed a map of the least classy places to live in America, based on ample access to bowling.) Bowling alleys seem a potent setting for drama; a playwright could set a wax-floor update of “The Iceman Cometh” on Lane 11.
Elizabeth McCracken’s new novel, “Bowlaway,” is a paean to candlepin bowling, a less-whacking variant of the sport. It employs thinner pins and a ball the size of a grapefruit with no finger holes. Bowlers are given three tosses a turn, not two. The game is popular in New England. There are no candlepin alleys in New York City.
With this novel McCracken has, to borrow a term from cricket, bowled a googly. “Bowlaway” is a large and caterwauling sort of opera buffa, packed with outsize characters — some with recherché talents — and wild, often dreamlike events. If this novel were a bar, it would be the kind of joint where the Christmas lights are left on all year long.
This is McCracken’s third novel, and there’s been a wait for it. (She has also written two books of stories and a memoir.) Her last novel, “Niagara Falls All Over Again,” which tracks a pair of comedy partners from vaudeville to Hollywood, appeared 18 years ago.
Her first, a favorite of mine, a little heartbreaker of a book written with command and magic, is titled “The Giant’s House.” It was published in 1996. It’s about a librarian and her love for a very tall, very literate boy who is dying. It’s the sort of novel, I recall writing at the time, you want to sleep with under your pillow.
In the nearly two decades between her last novel and this one, there has been some tragedy in the author’s life. Her memoir, “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination” (2008), is about the child she lost, in her ninth month of pregnancy, while living in a remote part of France.
Some of the sorrow in that memoir seeps over into “Bowlaway.” More than one woman in this novel has lost a child. The writing on this topic makes for close to unbearable reading.
“People, women especially, are leery of mothers of dead children, or too gentle around them,” McCracken writes. “The bereaved mother is a combustible gas, the baby is a match; which one is dangerous makes no difference but best keep them apart. LuEtta couldn’t think of a way to ask that didn’t make her seem more dangerous. She saw she might never be allowed to hold anyone’s baby again.”
This substrata of despondency adds ballast to a novel that sometimes seems to want to drift off, like a hot-air balloon, into an ionospheric layer of pure twinkle and whimsy.
“Bowlaway” begins at the start of the 20th century, when a woman named Bertha Truitt turns up — inexplicably, as if she has beamed down from outer space — in the cemetery of a small town north of Boston.
Bertha is larger than life in many ways. She’s big and bosomy, which is worth remarking because so many of the people in this novel, men and women, have had too much cake and too little exercise. McCracken writes wonderfully and perceptively about large bodies. If she were a painter or sculptor, she’d be Fernando Botero or Henry Moore, not Modigliani or El Greco.
Bertha, who is described as a “prophet of bowling,” opens a candlepin alley. The place is a success, in part because of its feminist bona fides. In most bowling alleys at the time, McCracken writes, women had to bowl behind curtains, separated from the men for modesty’s sake. Not here.
Women bowling in the open bring gawkers, “because where else could you see such a good-looking girl dewy with sweat and happiness, and not pay a cent, and not have to go to confession?”
This candlepin alley attracts ghosts. A major character spontaneously combusts. Another dies in the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, which is a correlative, at times, for the experience of reading “Bowlaway.”
The alley attracts orphans and sensitive, damaged souls, the heartbroken and the disinherited. As this novel moves through the decades we follow them, as well as the children of Bertha and others. Some go to New York City. Others go to wars. Some open their own bowling alleys.
The plot has many resonances but never fully sets its hooks in us. The politics of nearly all its characters, with respect to feminism, interracial marriage, and gay and lesbian tendencies, are anachronistically progressive.
This novel’s cast grows epic, but McCracken is always most impressive when she works small, when she is describing movie kisses or corsets or simply loneliness and longing.
One man in “Bowlaway” likes drinking for the same reason I like her sentences: “Beer turned on the lights, warmed the furniture.”B:
红姐心水论坛永久网【苹】【果】【的】iPhone【从】【乔】【布】【斯】【时】【代】【开】【始】，【由】iPhone【进】【化】【到】【现】【在】【的】iPhone 11 Pro/Max，【我】【们】【随】【着】【每】【一】【年】【一】【部】【新】【机】【的】【推】【出】，【见】【证】【了】【苹】【果】【的】【崛】【起】【和】【蜕】【变】。【在】【乔】【帮】【主】【去】【世】【后】，【库】【克】【带】【领】【下】【的】【苹】【果】【虽】【然】【创】【下】【了】【市】【值】【最】【高】【记】【录】，【但】【似】【乎】【和】【创】【新】【越】【走】【越】【远】，【自】iPhone 6【开】【始】，【苹】【果】【手】【机】【的】【外】【观】【沿】【袭】【换】【汤】【不】【换】【药】【的】【套】【路】，【看】【多】【了】【难】【免】【审】【美】【疲】【劳】。
【一】【旁】【的】【叶】【凡】【尘】【拿】【起】【案】【几】【上】【的】【风】【车】【吹】【了】【起】【来】，【这】【样】【子】【怕】【是】【脑】【子】【已】【经】【坏】【掉】【了】。 “【哎】！【可】【惜】【了】，【定】【王】【如】【今】【也】【不】【知】【在】【哪】【里】？” 【司】【马】【辰】【景】【长】【叹】【一】【声】，【转】【身】【就】【准】【备】【朝】【门】【外】【走】【去】。 【叶】【凡】【尘】【坐】【在】【椅】【子】【上】，【仍】【是】【玩】【着】【手】【里】【的】【风】【车】，【呼】【呼】【呼】【地】【吹】【着】，【随】【后】【便】【冒】【出】【一】【句】【话】：“【后】【山】【里】【有】【个】【洞】！” 【司】【马】【辰】【景】【停】【滞】【在】【原】【地】【的】【脚】【步】【没】【有】
“【媳】【妇】【还】【去】【竹】【楼】【吗】？” 【回】【家】【的】【路】【上】，【容】【焱】【突】【然】【来】【了】【一】【句】，【宋】【挽】【歌】【停】【下】【脚】【步】，【回】【头】【好】【笑】【地】【看】【着】【他】：“【先】【前】【也】【不】【知】【道】【是】【谁】，【死】【活】【都】【不】【让】【我】【去】，【眼】【下】【怎】【又】【让】【我】【去】【了】？” “【我】【想】【了】【想】，【觉】【得】【那】【什】【么】【清】【怜】【定】【然】【没】【我】【本】【事】，【吸】【引】【不】【了】【媳】【妇】【的】【目】【光】，【媳】【妇】【就】【算】【过】【去】，【也】【无】【妨】。” 【宋】【挽】【歌】【低】【头】【闷】【笑】：“【真】【心】【话】？” 【容】【焱】【抿】
【帝】【玄】【擎】【看】【了】【看】【叶】【瑾】，【目】【光】【深】【沉】：“【本】【王】【去】，【瑾】【儿】，【你】【留】【在】【擎】【王】【府】！” “【不】，【我】【也】【去】！”【叶】【瑾】【语】【气】【很】【坚】【决】。 【帝】【玄】【擎】【也】【早】【已】【从】【她】【的】【表】【现】【中】【知】【道】，【她】【想】【同】【去】。【但】【是】，【战】【争】【本】【就】【危】【险】，【现】【在】【又】【有】【这】【威】【力】【无】【穷】【的】【炸】【药】，【危】【险】【更】【是】【扩】【大】【了】【数】【倍】。 【而】【且】，【帝】【陌】【泽】【的】【目】【标】【本】【就】【是】【她】，【她】【去】，【岂】【不】【是】【正】【中】【帝】【陌】【泽】【的】【下】【怀】？【帝】【陌】【泽】
【新】【娘】【脚】【一】【落】【地】，【数】【十】【只】【响】【箭】【齐】【发】。 【徐】【亦】【安】【下】【意】【识】【的】【把】【未】【晚】【护】【在】【了】【怀】【里】、“【这】【就】【是】【爷】【爷】【给】【我】【们】【的】【惊】【喜】.？”【未】【晚】【仰】【着】【头】【一】【脸】【无】【奈】【的】【看】【着】【自】【家】【老】【公】、 “【应】【该】【算】【是】【惊】【吓】..” 【从】【长】【廊】【到】【堂】【屋】【门】【口】【铺】【了】【一】【挑】【长】【长】【的】【红】【色】【地】【毯】，【两】【侧】【站】【满】【了】【前】【来】【祝】【贺】【的】【亲】【朋】、【二】【人】【相】【视】【一】【笑】，【缓】【缓】【向】【前】【走】【去】、 红姐心水论坛永久网【华】【龙】【玉】【出】【手】【了】，【一】【手】【骤】【然】【探】【出】，【朝】【着】【那】【虚】【空】【悍】【然】【一】【拍】！ 【嘭】！！！ 【空】【间】【骤】【然】【被】【撼】【爆】！ 【被】【生】【生】【撕】【裂】【出】【一】【条】【条】【惊】【怖】【裂】【缝】！ 【一】【股】【恐】【怖】【雄】【劲】，【骤】【然】【朝】【着】【夜】【风】【席】【卷】！ 【啊】【啊】【啊】 【而】【此】【时】，【一】【群】【无】【辜】【之】【人】【遭】【受】【波】【及】，【当】【即】【发】【出】【刺】【耳】【惨】【叫】，【当】【场】【便】【是】【被】【这】【一】【掌】【拍】【碎】！ 【那】【死】【去】【之】【人】，【尽】【数】【圣】【人】！ 【七】【八】【个】
【看】【着】【陈】【花】【郢】【缓】【缓】【而】【来】，【燕】【然】【有】【种】【不】【详】【的】【预】【感】。 “**，【今】【日】【这】【么】【热】【闹】，【要】【不】【咱】【俩】【也】【下】【场】【去】【玩】【两】【把】？” **【被】【这】【气】【势】【和】【陈】【花】【郢】【脸】【上】【的】【笑】【容】【惊】【到】，【不】【禁】【后】【退】【了】【半】【步】。 【燕】【然】【有】【些】【皱】【眉】。 “【花】【郢】【郡】【主】，【要】【不】【咱】【俩】【来】【一】【句】。” 【陈】【花】【郢】【看】【向】【燕】【然】，“【玩】【什】【么】？” “【随】【便】，【都】【可】【以】。” “【呵】，【好】【大】【的】【口】【气】
【余】【南】【带】【着】【维】【克】【托】【赶】【了】【五】【六】【天】【以】【后】，【就】【平】【安】【无】【事】【的】【赶】【到】【了】【象】【牙】【山】【脉】。 【余】【南】【并】【没】【有】【惊】【动】【任】【何】【人】，【而】【是】【先】【潜】【回】【了】【自】【己】【的】【炼】【金】【工】【坊】。 【一】【进】【工】【坊】【就】【将】【所】【有】【黑】【影】【士】【兵】【放】【出】【警】【戒】【以】【后】，【余】【南】【心】【里】【这】【才】【轻】【松】【了】【许】【多】，【毕】【竟】【还】【是】【自】【己】【的】【地】【盘】【安】【全】【啊】！ “【等】【会】！【露】【莉】【亚】，【富】【兰】【克】【林】！” 【余】【南】【大】【吼】【大】【叫】【的】【向】【着】【楼】【上】【冲】【了】【上】【去】。
【江】【安】【疑】【惑】。 【囚】【牛】【的】【眼】【眸】【盯】【着】【地】【上】【的】【断】【手】，【声】【音】【有】【些】【低】【哑】：“【睚】【眦】【逼】【出】【自】【己】【的】【魂】【魄】，【还】【化】【做】【原】【身】……【似】【乎】【只】【是】【为】【了】【带】【那】【个】【女】【孩】【离】【开】。” 【囚】【牛】【闭】【眼】【叹】【息】：“【虽】【然】【他】【已】【经】【活】【不】【长】【了】，【也】【算】【是】【了】【却】【了】【我】【的】【一】【桩】【心】【愿】，【但】【终】【究】【觉】【着】……【我】【们】【似】【乎】【亏】【欠】【他】【了】【一】【点】【什】【么】……” 【囚】【牛】【说】【话】【云】【里】【雾】【里】，【江】【安】【却】【是】【注】【意】【到】【其】【中】【的】【细】