Jane Smiley's Novel Ten Days in the Hills
Shipping Weight: 1.70 pounds
Quantity in Basket: None
A glorious new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winner: a big, smart, bawdy tale of love and war, sex and politics, friendship and betrayal—and the allure of the movies. With Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron as her model, Jane Smiley takes us through ten transformative, unforgettable days in the Hollywood hills.
“[A]modern-day Decameron . . . [a]Hollywood talkfest [in which] the talk ranges widely but keeps reverting to the Iraq war and the movie business. The acknowledgments at the book’s end thank ‘every director and commentator on every DVD who bothered to add Special Features,’ and there can be no doubt that Smiley, whose previous novels have abundantly shared information on farming, horses, real estate, and medieval Scandinavian settlements in Greenland, has done her DVD research with characteristic thoroughness. Movies–classic and obscure, real and imaginary–pepper the conversation. [At] the end of . . . Smiley’s capacious new novel, [the reader] is reluctant to leave . . . . The ten chapters are named for ten successive days . . . . Each chapter is roughly half talk and half sex. The sexual descriptions set a new mark for explicitness in a work of non-pornographic intent. Smiley works in close focus, and from a male as well as female point of view. Physical facts and sensations are not stinted . . . Smiley has put herself on the edge . . . replacing plot and suspense with something freer and more lifelike–casual talk [that creates] a lattice of cross-purpose in which emotions and attractions extend their tendrils . . . The funniest, most outrageous, and most revelatory sex scene occurs [with] a type rather new to American fiction’s provinces, a post-Communist Russian, saucily enriching the free world with her native energy and bluntness . . . [her] blithe sluttiness . . . The twists of libido are wound into a cultural exchange, and the anatomy of our inward hollows is illuminated to surprising and comic effect . . . . [In The Decameron,] Boccaccio conjures up an idyll of civilized society [that is] all delight and abundance and beauty. Ten Days in the Hills achieves a kindred richness.”–John Updike, The New Yorker