Wednesday, August 12, 2015
An artsy middlebrow novel
In The Cranes Dance, Kate Crane struggles to finish out a season of dance with a prominent New York City ballet company after her sister Gwen - younger, but more talented, and of higher position in the company - has a psychotic break and returns home. While dealing with a breakup, a neck injury and subsequent drug abuse, and a preteen dancer who idolizes her, Kate tries to understand her codependent relationship with Gwen as she is assigned Gwen's role of Titania, the lead in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
What I liked most about the novel was Kate's voice, which was often extraordinarily funny even as she muses on the tragedy and suffering of life. Her acerbic and often litotic (is that a word? using the literary technique of litotes, deliberate and ironic understatement) descriptions of ballet culture, daily routine, and show plots felt just like we academics griping about the nagging details of our own chosen profession. So while I know very little about ballet - I was a baby doll in a Nutcracker when I was very small, but that was it - Kate's voice still felt very familiar in her summaries and complaints.