I've recommended Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers to a number of you thus far; I stand by said recommendation. However, I found myself sadly disappointed by his other book, Ablutions. The prose is colorful in a good way, the descriptions are vivid, the character sketches clear, but despite the slim size of the volume, I returned it to the library before finishing it. And it wasn't even due back yet. If any of you out there have read it, and think it worth the finishing, I'd be interested to hear. But, as far as I could tell, it was dark dark dark, without a single redeeming character, and a lot of dirt and ugliness and sadness. Did I give up too soon? I'd be happy to be wrong.
In the meantime, I've been listening to Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale in the car; it's delightful. I'm withholding final judgement, as I have a bit to go on it yet, and, of course, I'm sure I'm missing all kinds of important things as I am frequently distracted by the horribly lackadaisical driving style of these DC types. Move, people! Anyway, if you want to get a taste for it, there are a lot of good quotations from it on this page. Or, if you want an even briefer taste for the feel of his writing, this is the line that caught me so much that I wrote it on my hand as I was driving. Shhh. I'm a good driver:
He talks a lot about the necessity of freedom for movement in a person's life, an idea that rings comfortingly true to my chronically restless self. Also, it starts with the description of a brilliant white horse who has escaped the milkman's stable and is gleefully pleased with himself. It'll grab you right off.