So Big

Holy fuck, Edna Ferber. Why is the entire English-speaking world not reading her books and worshiping her for the fantastic fiction she wrote? When I finished reading this minutes ago, I actually held it in the air and shook it. My god.

Tight, perfect prose, descriptive, and the plot achingly magnificent. The worst pages were the beginning, where you think it’s going to be all about Dirk (So Big), but he’s quickly whisked away and the fantastic Selina is revealed, his mother, who when her father the gambler died, headed to the Chicago suburbs to become a teacher to support herself and ended up marrying a luckless farmer within a few months. Selina gives herself up to farming, making that land work so that she can give son Dirk the best things in life, especially when her hubby croaks a few years in. This charming, good-looking loafer (her son) grows further away from her, first studying at “Midwest” (which became U of Chicago), then to Cornell to study architecture, which he gives up in pursuit of riches to please his married girlfriend. But then an ad campaign lands him in the path of Dallas O’Mara and we’re back in the land of real people again. The book ends with him face-down on his satin sheets, realizing what a worthless life he’s pursued.

Ferber’s lines grab you by the throat, no wonder most of her work has been pillaged by Hollywood for scripts (Dinner at Eight – one of my favorite movies, Giant, Show Boat, Ice Palace, Saratoga Trunk, Cimarron, etc.). Biographically, she’s my kind of gal– never married, no kids. Slurping her autobiography onto my to-read list immediately.