Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fall of Frost and Emotional Continuity

What really struck me about "Fall of Frost" was the novel's unconventional structure. Instead of following the chronological timeline most biographic novels take, Hall's book is presented as a series of short chapters that give us a glimpse into a frustrated, complicated life.

Non Frost scholars like myself will be amazed at the chaos, death and mental illness that plagued the great poet. The book at times feel similarly chaotic--we are hurled from a moment in Frost's early days, to a moment in the 1940s, to his time in Russia meeting Khrushchev and so on. So the real continuity is an emotional one; for example, one section lines up Frost becoming comfortable in his Massachusetts farm, then to him not daring to even glance at its dilapidated shape on a car ride over a decade later, then to "The Novelist" exploring the refurbished farm in 2004. We get to trace exactly how crucial moments (like the death of his fellow poet and friend Edward Thomas) echoed through the rest of his life.

The breadth of the novel is striking. Every thought coming from Frost feels true to his nature, and when we step outside of Frost's world (including a lovely, brief chapter focusing on Kennedy) the characterizations feel just as true. A fine, captivating book. I cannot wait to read more from this author.