Book 804 David Leavitt – The Lost Language of Cranes


One small drawback about this list is that sometimes the wrong book comes at the wrong time, this has happened with a couple of the previous novels, especially the V.S. Naipaul one I reviewed recently, however sometimes the perfect book comes along and the circumstances are perfect.

I’m slowly going back to my full routine and I really needed something light with a flowing plot and thankfully ‘The Lost Language of Cranes’ provided that. It’s an easy-going novel and although, the plot tackles a serious topic it never gets long-winded.

Philip is gay, but he has kept this hidden from his parent for about 25 years. The thing is (it’s not a spoiler you find out after a couple of pages) that his father, Owen, is a homosexual as well and has been keeping this as a secret.

The rest of the novel deals with Philips relationships  and Owen’s more secretive trysts. I guess, like Hollinghurst, Leavitt is trying to show that each generation has his own way of dealing his orientation.

Eventually both come out to Rose (who has had her fair share of affairs) who reacts in a typical way. Leavitt also tackles how parents deal with their children coming out – as the other gay/lesbian characters in the novel have their experiences as well.

If I do have one gripe it’s that I felt that some characters weren’t well-rounded and just used a sort of plot device, the lesbian Jerene and her lover are such an example. I mean other than revealing what the book’s title refers to ( a baby who was abandoned and gravitated towards construction cranes and even mimicked their noises, which gives the impression that they had a language – just like the characters in the novel have a lost language) she is a bit superfluous. But it’s really not much of a complaint as the character interaction in ‘…Lost Language….’ is so well executed that these quibbles seem silly.

Yes this is a novel about relationships and in-depth as well. It’s a pity that this book is out of print as it deserves a much wider audience.