The top was further because she was so near she could not see which way it was.
I have always been intimidated by Gertrude Stein. A modernist, she held salons in Paris with famous writers and artists of the day. I may have picked up a book or two of hers to scan and been scared off by her unique writing. Which is why I felt some trepidation when I picked up her book The World is Round.
The book is ostensibly a children’s book, but as the forward states, “Many [children] find its radical use of language a difficult read.” As an adult, I found myself entranced. Contrary to what some may call a stream-of-conscious style, The World is Round is like water or, as the forward author says, like music. Some readers might think the writing style is unedited, like a first draft. It is clear, however, that this is not the case. Stein clearly, carefully, crafted the text; in fact, she had great control. Her genius with language and its rhythms are in every word. There is a lot of repetition in Stein’s writing; it comes from every angle. It can be called round too, which obviously is key to the story. Reading her book was like going on a ride.
The World is Round revolves primarily around Rose, all though a boy named Willie plays an important role. Rose has great anxiety over who she would be if her name was not Rose. Willie is confident that he would always be Willie, regardless of what his name is. Throughout the book are the different songs Rose and Willie sing about their life or what they see. There isn’t a plot so much, but they have different experiences, like when Willie goes to the place where wild animals are and adopts a lion, which he then gives to Rose. Who they are and what their place in the world is (the world is round) is threaded throughout the book.
The longest part of the book is a journey Rose takes to the top of a mountain, carrying only a blue chair on which she hopes to sit at the very pinnacle.
“Rose was now going up and up the green grass meadow that went right on to the top. She did not say oh again she just went on. It was hot, and the green grass was hot and underneath the green grass there was ground and in that ground oh dear Rose almost stepped on it there was something round
Rose had courage everywhere she just went on going up there.”
I really liked this book, and would read it to any child or to any adult, for that matter