I honestly don't know how I escaped high school without reading this book. First, because I think it should be required reading in all high school American Lit classes, but also, I made a lot of my own reading lists in high school, and I really don't know how this one never made the cut.
I have a lot of lectures to tegrity from today, so this is going to be a brief little love letter to a book all of you should have already read.
I love reading books and feeling like I learn something from the writer. I don't mean necessarily that the book's content teaches me something, but that the actual writing style conveys something about how to piece together words and phrases to tell a good story, develop characters, or just make the reader reevaluate how they convey their own thoughts.
Knowles writes so cleanly and simply and I just loved it. I went through a very wordy writing phase in high school and college (aka the times when I wrote anything at all). I read some of my old papers and I wonder why I thought it was a good idea to use so many descriptors and clauses and semicolons in one sentence. None of it is necessary and it leads to very muddled writing. Knowles fleshed out some of the most vivid and real characters I've ever read, and he did it in a book that was less than 200 pages long.
That being said, when he does pull out a really long crazy sentence, it's kind of a magical experience. I submit, for your consideration, page 128:
Winter's occupation seems to have conquered, overrun and destroyed everything, so that now there is no longer any resistance movement left in nature; all the juices are dead, every sprig of vitality snapped, and now winter itself, an old, corrupt, tired conquerer, loosens its grip on the desolation, recedes a little, grows careless in its watch; sick of victory and enfeebled by the absence of challenge, it begins itself to withdraw from the ruined countryside.
And his characterization! Egads, I'm in love. Phineas was so cool, so perfect, and yet so believably real! I won't lie, the ending left me more than a little emotionally crushed.
Okay, back to hydrocephalus.
P.S. I'm kind of convinced that Phineas was the inspiration for Phineas and Ferb.