And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.
Last week Carleton's Class of 2022 arrived on campus (thrilling), I stumbled across a huge sunflower in Northfield (beautiful), and I finished Sarah Winman's newest novel, Tin Man (devastating). I've been thinking a lot about how to review/ rate this book. There is a noticeable discrepancy between (1) the objectively strong writing/ plot of Tin Man and (2) the extent to which I actually enjoyed reading it. I remember feeling this way about Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See: the writing felt objectively beautiful (if such a thing as objective beauty can exist), but I didn't quite enjoy reading it. Parts are almost too romantic, too heartbreaking, too deliberately crafted to break your heart and then put it back together. Like All the Light We Cannot See, Tin Man read like a very sad fairy tale for me. Perhaps it's just not my kind of novel. That said, it sure is a beautiful one. I can see why it's beloved by readers around the world.
Tin Man is a book about first love. Michael and Ellis are twelve year old boys when they meet and fall in love. As teenagers, they vacation in France for a week and daydream about a future together, living in "an old stone barn filled with junk and wine and paintings, surrounded by fields of wildflowers and bees." When Ellis falls in love with a woman years later, things get very sad and very complicated. Winman packs a lot into this short novel: she writes about physical abuse, the loss of a parent, emerging sexuality, and the AIDS epidemic. Tin Man is a quick read and absolute worth picking up. I look forward to seeing what Winman writes in the future.