Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wait, what did I miss?

It won't give anything away to say that at the end of the book, one of the characters mentioned that the time she had spent with her siblings had an unfinished quality to it. That's pretty much how I felt about the whole of Letter from Point Clear, and apparently that fit Dennis McFarland's intentions. I enjoyed reading the book, but I kept waiting for something to happen -- for a real conflict to arise. There certainly were problems, some of which found resolution, but it felt like the book never found its reason for existing. Was the author commenting on religion? family dynamics? homosexuality? Or just a chance for some lovely writing and interesting characters to get together, without anything much actually occurring?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Acceptance is an important step

I have no problem with chick lit and other various forms of brain candy. But a book should just accept that it is fluff and not try to pretend that it's highbrow. Ann Packer's Songs Without Words thinks it's a bigger, more literary book than it actually is. The story isn't bad, but the characters are overdone; ironic, since the characters periodically discuss how one ought not categorize people as "the smart one" or "the creative one." And yet the book's people so neatly fit into those generalizations: Troubled Teen, Soccer Mom, Artsy Friend with Issues. Songs Without Words: It's what happens when good fluff goes bad.

And by the way, it's not symbolism if you have to spell it out. It's just annoying.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lost in America

OK, I admit it. I've apparently developed a little crush on Neil Gaiman. But could his stuff be any more fabulous? After reading American Gods, I'm quite convinced that when he finished writing it, he had to have just sat back and thought, "Yes, I am that good." There's so much going on in this book, and it's quite different from his other books I've read so far -- it's darker, with considerably more depth. I can't imagine the research and energy that must have gone into this novel. I rarely take books to work, because I never have time to read there, but I kept sneaking chances to read more of American Gods. When I was finished, I was left thoroughly satisfied and yet wanting more. Go read it, if you haven't. Don't bother to find out what it's about first; just jump in. You'll find yourself immediately immersed.