would have nodded my head a bit dully at the first two and drawn a complete blank on the third. Indeed, until I checked the acknowledgments at the end of the novel, I thought Thompson might be Delbanco’s invention entirely. Even after I saw the references to Thompson’s Collected Works and to the “definitive study” of him, part of me suspected that the novelist might have made up everything.
After all, in more than twenty books, Delbanco has proven himself not only a stylist of the first order but often a master of invention. When he has found the perfect combination of style and subject (as he did in the autobiographical-seeming novel What Remains), the books crackle with the texture of the lived-world. In The Count of Concord Delbanco is able to adapt his style to his eighteenth-century subject so easily that we become convinced of the invention.