If you haven’t heard of the novella Mr. Dalloway by Robin Lippincott and you’re a Woolf fan at all, do yourself a favor and order it. Now.
Full disclosure: he was my writing mentor for two semesters in grad school. I begged the person in charge of assigning mentors to let me work with him. Having recently come off my undergraduate thesis about Woolf, and having found Woolfian ideas sneaking into my fiction, I knew he was the ideal mentor for me.
Poor guy as he watched me continue to hone my process, a circular one that must be maddening for someone bound by a semester. He’s amazing. That’s all I will say of his honesty and generosity or I’m going to cry.
And I’m happy to report that, having my first novel published and rounding the bend on finishing my second, I can now start and complete a novel. Yay!
I will say, I was so intimidated by Robin’s brilliance (of course I read Mr. Dalloway before meeting him) that I was way too jokey and light in his workshop and I’m afraid he got a not-great impression of my critiquing abilities.
In addition to his mentoring skills, he’s an exquisite writer. Mr. Dalloway, as you’d suspect, comes from the POV of Richard Dalloway. The opening line? “Mr. Dalloway said he would buy the flowers himself.”
What a fabulous opener! It says everything we need to know. We just can’t get away from those flowers, can we? I told you they mean more. (Still not ready to get into it. But we will.)
From there we get his sensuous, striking Woolfian sentences and a similar, pleasing pace to Mrs.
And we do worry about poor Richard.
Remember the total eclipse of 2017? There’s a wonderful scene of an eclipse in this book, one I re-read in preparation for my and Barry’s trip to see the eclipse in Tennessee.
We often talk of intertextuality in books, but sometimes entire books spring from another. I’m so grateful this one did.
WHEN you read it, not if, let me know what parallels you see in it with Mrs. Dalloway and what you think of the provoking premise of it. (Prefaced with a selection of quotes to lend it legitimacy, I find the novella beautiful and convincing, just as I find the lovely Mr. Lippincott.)