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The third DVD of “Homeland” arrived today. I picked it up with the rest of the mail after a mile-long walk to the post office in the broiling sun. And although the news of the most recent beheadings, bombings and related mayhem from the Mideast might have been the trigger to reignite my interest in the series, it’s only further receded in my mind.
The show simply cannot compete with David Mitchell’s “Ghostwritten.” As a work of creative fiction, they are not even in the same universe. While the TV show is a bit too manipulative and lacking in verisimilitude for my taste, Mitchell’s writing is deeply honest, psychologically probing and dramatically propulsive, to mention just a few of its signature characteristics.
In fact, some 375 pages into the novel, I have found myself blurting out “wow!” at the end of each interlinked chapter.
Where Homeland seems to me forced in connecting the thematic dots, Ghostwritten takes far greater leaps in location, timeframe and characters in a way that is totally and convincingly believable.
The writing–plot and character development, metaphysical musings, psychological insights, its scientific thought web–is almost impossibly perfect. It is simultaneously microscopically and macroscopically phantasmagoric, personal and universal, touching and brutal.
That one person–and a first time novelist at that–has written such a work of imagination is a marvel. I have had a hard time thinking back to when a work of fiction so totally enraptured me; perhaps John Barth in “The Sot Weed Factor,” or “Giles Goat Boy” many decades ago?
No nagging here. I’ve already ordered up his second novel from the local library system, with great anticipation and just a little bit of apprehension.
Ghostwritten was published some 14 years ago; call me a late starter.

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