…”Back,” by Henry Green. Green, whose admirers included W.H. Auden, Terry Southern and Eudora Welty, was the first author I heard referred to as “a writer’s writer’s writer.” He wrote nine novels, of which I’ve now read five, though none in more than a decade, when I tripped over this one in Half-Price Books. “Back” concerns a partial amputee, just returned from a German POW camp, seemingly before VE Day, adjusting to a life thrown further off-balance by the death, while he was away, of the married woman by whom he may have fathered a child.
Green writes terrific dialogue, tellingly rendering its halts & stumbles & circumambulations and the “accuracy” these inaccuracies communicate. He penetrates characters deeply and painfully. He captures light with painterly skill. In fact, like an English Lit professor of mine once said of writers he admired, he is at all times a conscious artist, adding each word to a page as a painter applies each pigment. (If you pick this one up, just look at how he uses the word “rose.”)
“Loving” was Green’s most highly regarded — and most successful book — but I recommend all — and any — of them.