4.5 stars. Everything I love about Brockmann is in this book--along with so very many characters and threads to track. Those are the reason it's not f...more4.5 stars. Everything I love about Brockmann is in this book--along with so very many characters and threads to track. Those are the reason it's not five deliriously happy stars, I had to go back now and then because another character has drifted onto the scene and did we know that person before? (And yes, yes--there are a couple of characters from other books. Oh boy! Hi Yoshi and Martell!)
I received a copy from netgalley to review and I'm still crowing about getting to read it early. Ha! Yay! I'm sure I'll have to reread it to remember who did what to whom and why. Did I mention? Lots of names. Lots of fun alpha characters and snarky dialogue. Lots of subplots. Even some darling endangered children -- only one of whom we meet (even better).
I'll write a longer review closer to the release date. Goddamn, I loved this book. (less)
The protagonists were basically losers without giving me a look at Basic Human Realities that loozer characters are supposed to lend literary fiction....moreThe protagonists were basically losers without giving me a look at Basic Human Realities that loozer characters are supposed to lend literary fiction. It never grew into a big book--which is the only reason I want to spend time with unsympathetic people.
I originally wrote: I'm not done with this book and I'm not sure I'll ever finish it. I have absolutely no interest in spending time with this character. I grow depressed when I think I'm supposed to be amused. He has moments of self-awareness which lead to self-loathing (or self-mockery) but yeah? So? When do we get something other than his fear or his wine? So much drinking. An alcoholic pretending to be a connoisseur - or maybe actually, yes, an expert -- is still an alcoholic. Drinking while driving. Woo. Yick.
The occasional descriptions of weather alone are enough to make me want to close the book. They are poetic schticks that I think are there to show his literary side. [update: the weather and scenery schticks grew on me. Pretentious word factor never did get less annoying but now I want to visit the ocean. . . so]
I'm up to him stealing from his dotty mom -- the woman who obviously loves him and whom he never visits. I'm thinking his friend Jack might be cool, hey at least he stopped to buy flowers for mom-- but our hero is a waste of time. Maybe he'll grow more appealing later on.
Maybe I'll stick around long enough to find out, but I doubt it. I think, perhaps if it wasn't first person, it would be easier to take?
I'm not sure why I'm having such a hugely negative response to this book. Maybe the self-involved writer who has panic issues and is totally wrapped in his (or her?) own misery ..... Hmmmm. Could be a bit of recognition there.
I have a feeling that if I could stick it out, read a few days into this trip they're on, I might hate this experience less. Maybe if I drank enough wine? It would take more than a bottle, I think.
It's funny because I usually kind of enjoy schlub characters -- anti-heroes are okay with me. This guy not so much. Not yet, anyway.
UPDATE: I should probably finish it. People I know say it's very funny.
UPDATE two: I did finish it. I think it got better -- once Jack ended going into revolving door to hospital the story grew more amusing. Maybe the whole getting what was coming to him helped? It'll never end up on my favorite shelf, but it wasn't as offensive as I'd first thought. (less)
2 stars. Failed to grip. I've listened to the audiobook and part of my dislike is the reader. Nearly every sentence that's not dialogue ends with a st...more2 stars. Failed to grip. I've listened to the audiobook and part of my dislike is the reader. Nearly every sentence that's not dialogue ends with a strange kind of up-lilt that drove me batty. She's fantastic with the accents and dialogue though.
So, okay, mixed bag all around.
Basic reason I didn't give a higher score: the characters and the world don't feel real to me. I keep trying to figure out why that is. I think it's partly related to inconsistency? A person's goal is mentioned and then everything shifts and then whoops the person's reality shifts back to the original goal. This is reality of course, conflicting emotions, but it didn't work for me because the changes were sudden and unexpected. Lucille is mercurial and that seemed like an interesting quality in her--not so much for Tess. And then some of the characters, like Jim, stay too much the same to be convincing.
And maybe I'm not crazy about it because it's set in a world that's been examined and re-examined and re-re-re-examined. Why doesn't someone write about a boat-based disaster that isn't the freaking Titanic? How come there aren't more Empress of Ireland or Mont Blanc stories?
Heh. That complaint comes across as someone who reads a children's story then grumbling that it's written for children.
Okay, this seems to be about my mood and not the book.
Speaking of personal issues, the other reason for a lower score is based on factors most readers wouldn't notice so my viewpoint shouldn't count for much(that's why I pushed it to a three.) I keep hearing anachronisms, but I doubt people would notice them. But seriously, things like the automatic elevator is annoying and dumb detail someone should have caught.
And I have other issues to do with stupid rules that shouldn't interrupt readers' pleasure. (mild POV shifts, or occasional telling rather than showing, or "don't describe characters by having them examine themselves in a mirror") (less)
My dog, this book is exhausting. Clever language, clever plotting, comic book one second and then the next second--or even simultaneously--profound or...moreMy dog, this book is exhausting. Clever language, clever plotting, comic book one second and then the next second--or even simultaneously--profound or poetic. In the end mostly comic book.
I usually kvetch when I suspect a book is broken up and turned into a series. This one might have done as a serial.
If it gets made into a movie, I bet the right director would be Terry Gilliam. Is he still around? He should come out of retirement for this. His inflated and vaguely mechanical vision would be PERFECT. Everyone would say WTF, when it first came out, but then it would be one of those movies that you'd end up watching more than once because you always saw something new and .... what is the word for the book...and Clever.
The names were Dickensian and the coincidences are too. Okay. well. PHEW.
Here's what I wrote while I reading it:
I like this even though the author is in love with his own voice. Occasionally he takes me along with him. That long section (that makes no real difference to the story, I think? Maybe it will later?) about the undertaker's creed, I loved that. Creepy, effective, the waiting men test is probably something I'll remember forever. Also I love Edie Banister. I'd vote for more of her and maybe a little less of Joe.
UPDATE: Okay the Waiting-Man-To-Be story is relevant. The whole thing is a huge book that you think is higgledy-piggledy, but is actually ornate and organized. and often silly, too.