Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stolen sense of comprehension

I finished The Soul Thief on an airplane, and after I read the last page, I closed the book, handed it to my husband, and said, "Here, read this and explain it to me." That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading the book, but Charles Baxter's novel left me more than a little bewildered. The first half of the book introduces a small contingency of grad students, including Jerome Coolberg, who enters as a strange cross between friend and nemesis to the main character, Nathaniel. I never quite grasped their relationship, though I think perhaps that was the point. The second half of the book takes place much later, with Coolberg re-entering Nathaniel's life. I appreciated Baxter's writing style -- observational and lyrical -- but the plot? To put it simply, I just didn't get it.

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