“The prairie lay that afternoon as it had lain for centuries of September afternoons…”

“…vast as an ocean; motionless as an ocean coaxed into very little ripples by languid breezes; silent as an ocean where only very little waves slip back into their element.”

Thus begins The Able McLaughlins, a novel by Margaret Wilson, the recipient of the 1924 Pulitzer Prize.  I don’t know about you, but that sentence doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.  It possesses a strange combination of effusive words and empty content.  My brief foray into the beginning of this book suggests that’s about how it goes.

I’ll admit, as much as I try to come into these novels without preconceptions, I’m skeptical of this one.  I’ve seen (mostly by accident) comments made about some of these early novels, and this one always seems to rank very low.  Furthermore, it’s about the hardest novel to acquire (of those I’ve tried so far), which suggests that history hasn’t been kind to it.

Maybe I’ll fall in love with the McLaughlins (all ten of them) and their prairie lives.  Maybe.  But I think it’s likelier that the McLaughlins in their “ableness” will make me pine for the Ambersons in their awful magnificence.  We’ll see.  If I can’t manage to enjoy it, I’ll strive to make my disappointment interesting and funny for you all, at the least.

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