Rules of Civility

Not too long ago, I told you that I just couldn’t appreciate literary fiction. Well, I take that back. Or at least I take it back when you mix it with historical fiction like Amor Towles did in a magical book called Rules of Civility.

If marrying a book wasn’t crazy pants and probably illegal in most states, I would marry this baby. The words floated off the page and enveloped me with visions of wonderful things. Am I blushing?

Never flowery, each word was still chosen carefully for the perfect effect and imagery.

“The driver put the cab in gear and Broadway began slipping by the windows like a string of lights being pulled off a Christmas tree.”

Can’t you just picture that? The lighted shop windows, whisking by you as you drive down the street?

“Anyone can buy a car or a night on the town. Most of us shell our days like peanuts. One in a thousand can look at the world with amazement. I don’t mean gawking at the Chrysler Building. I’m talking about the wing of a dragonfly. The tale of the shoeshine. Walking through an unsullied hour with an unsullied heart.”

Okay, so that is sort of flowery, but it hit home for me.  For example, I get the biggest kick out of the lizard that hangs out near my front door, everyone else just walks right by it.

There was so much to this story that resonated with me. It takes place in the NYC of the late thirties, when the depression is winding down and the talk of war is ramping up. Women are working in more and more fields and marrying later. The characters grew up during the roaring twenties and are left to figure out just where they fit in this brave new world that is grumbling, stumbling, and limping into the future and into war.

I just read that last paragraph again and realize how it is to explain how a story about the thirties resonated with me. Let’s try it another way…

  • The characters are rather lost. I am rather lost.
  • They are late bloomers, trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for. Me too.
  • They were raised in luxury, but the world changed and are trying to live within their now smaller means. Check.
  • They are all running from something or to something, not sure which. Double check.
  • There is a character named Wallace. I know a character named Wallace, who just happens to have liked this book.
  • They are all bright, all have a razor sharp wit, and all but one are beautiful. Just trust me on this one.

Do you feel me now? There were moments when I made myself stop reading because I didn’t want it to end so quickly. This is one of my top favs this year, if not the top. This is why I keep trying with books that some consider literary fiction, even though most are not for me. There is gold in stepping outside of your comfort zone; it just takes a lot of hope and maybe some Rules of Civility.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (July 26, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0670022691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022694