I've been having an incredibly satisfying literary love affair with Jeffrey Ford. So far, we've only had two dates - both literary mysteries: Girl in the Glass and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, and I usually don't let myself get so hopeful so soon, but I just have a feeling that he may be The One.
His storytelling has everything I could possibly want in a novel: a sense of mystery at its core, quirky hooks, (by that I mean almost unbelievable happenings and plot twists), the perfect blend of commercial and literary writing, (which for me means an author who writes exceptionally well and with authority, but doesn't show off or engage in meta-fiction), fascinating and little-known historical detail, just a touch of the fantastic, and of course, likable and lively characters.
I'm not sure what to do next. Jeffrey Ford's latest book just came out in April - a story collection titled The Empire of Ice Cream, which happens to be the title of one of my favorite Wallace Stevens poems. Already, the combination of Jeffrey Ford, that wonderful title, (which always brings to mind an embelished past of unbridled hedonism), and some great reviews, have given me sky high hopes. I'm nervous. Will The Empire of Ice Cream live up to my astral expectations? And do I deserve such literary happiness? Will a story collection contain everything I love about his recent novels? Should I read another novel next? This is a truly tough decision, and will eventually test my devotion to Jeffrey Ford, who has written what appears to be a quest fantasy trilogy. I'm not a big fan of quest fantasy - in fact, the only type of fantasy that I get really excited about is urban fantasy - but maybe for Jeffrey Ford, just this once, I could pick up a quest fantasy trilogy for the first time in at least 10 years.
But isn't that what love is all about? Don't we all find ourselves doing ridiculous, and even embarrassing things that our cynical pre-love selves vowed with a laugh of condescension that we would never do?
I heard from Jeffrey Ford's editor that he's working on a new novel that's more in the vein of The Girl in the Glass and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, but I don't think I can wait that long for my next Ford fix. So I'll keep y'all posted on whether or not The Empire of Ice Cream lives up to its title, and whether or not I love his fantasy trilogy as much as his mysteries.