Well! Talk about a twist -- Jamie Ford did on page 74 what I thought wouldn't be done until page 300-something. What a twist -- of the advertising! To...moreWell! Talk about a twist -- Jamie Ford did on page 74 what I thought wouldn't be done until page 300-something. What a twist -- of the advertising! To me, it seemed like the book was being promoted as a story about a *search*, but the answer comes so much earlier than I'd expected! The rest of the 319 pages are spent with backstory, and what seems to be becoming Ford's calling card of playing with time (it's possibly even Aaron Sorkin-esque), and a second search.
Songs of Willow Frost is another beautifully-written story by Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. This one wasn't *quite* as good as Hotel, for me anyway--I think just because the style, tone, and story were SO new and refreshing in Hotel, but now I've seen it before, so book #2 isn't as groundbreaking--but it was good. At times it felt like the Seattle landmarks were being referenced waaay too often, but then I decided "Screw the national audience. I'm from Seattle, and I enjoy all these references! phhhht!" :)
The story (the collective Story of William's story, Willow's story, Charlotte's story, Colin's story, Willow's family's story) is sad (Sad), then there's hope, then there's not, then it's tragic and depressing, then there's hope, then there's not, then it's heartbreaking, then ... there's hope? AND THEN IT ENDS! DAMNIT! But luckily I read the *entire* book... I almost lost faith in mankind (i.e. Jamie Ford) in the next-to-last chapter... then he redeemed himself ;) And I choose to believe that after he and the rest of us left WIlliam and Willow, there was happiness in their lives. Even though we didn't get to see it, I think (hope) it was there. (less)
The (presumed) premise of this book is a good one: how the cities and locations in your state got their names. But the execution fails at times (and a...moreThe (presumed) premise of this book is a good one: how the cities and locations in your state got their names. But the execution fails at times (and at times, it fails big time): 1) There are some entries where I swear he never actually explains how the location got its name, but might tell of semi-interesting events that happened there. 2) Other times, it seems like the entry is more about how another place got its name, with only a quick explanation of the place actually listed. 3) And the index doesn't help in those times when Place B is named and described under Place A's write-up: many times, Place B isn't listed in the index, or is listed as "B, Place," rather than "Place B" (for example, there's a Such-and-such Hook, and you're apparently supposed to know it would be in the index listed under "Hook, Such-and-such"). 4) Plus, the typos! Ooh, they give me a headache! Extra letters, letters missing, and a whole lot of comma problems (commas where they shouldn't be, commas missing from where they should be). Plus, so many spelling issues. "Makah" vs. "Mahak," and even "George" then "Goerge" and "Thorpe" then "Thrope." 5) And oh my God, the repetition of phrases! How many times and ways do you need to say "the Indians had never before witnessed the invention of the sail/wheel" or "Nootka's harbor, called Friendly Cove"? Argh! Change it up a bit! I suppose if you use the book as an encyclopedia, you might not notice the repetition as much as if you read it straight through, but he even used that "Nootka harbor...Friendly Cove" phrase four times in one entry! OMG! I wanted to start beating my head against a wall! 6) Many of the passages (especially toward the end) seemed very Eurocentric. Some entries were worded like nothing happened at those sites until Europeans or Americans came, or sometimes made the Native Americans sound silly or unnecessarily violent. I would think that if strangers came and tried to take over your home, you'd be a bit violent in defending your land, too, but the author makes it sound sometimes like "Oh, silly Indians, they attacked the whites. Crazy!" 7) And here's a real doozy: the book totally drops the ball on the A-to-Z concept. It goes from Alki to Yelm, but why not include Zillah?!? Why stop at the Ys?
According to the back cover, the writer of the book was a teacher, and I assume there was an editor at the publishing company... What the hell happened?!? The book was fairly interesting--I definitely learned some trivia and some history--I just wish it had been put together and edited better. Those issues made the book go from 4 stars to 2 stars, and the book almost made a trip to the wall, out the window, across the yard, across the street...basically, any place I could chuck it, I almost did. Such a disappointment. I would still recommend this book, but definitely not enthusiastically, and with the warning of "Don't expect perfection, and be prepared to be exasperated at times."
(And here are two more warning signs I should have picked up on before: 1) The first sentence of the back cover reads "'Place names are like the historical markers past which we all speed in our motor cars, to preoccupied to stop and enjoy them...'" Okay everyone, what's wrong with that sentence? Break our your red pencils and find the error. 2) The back cover goes on to list "some of the place names of Washington State"... but only 1 of the 8 listed are actually in the book! Crazy!)(less)