Incest is squicky. Of course, I think The Young Victoria is one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen and Victoria and Albert were cousins. But,Incest is squicky. Of course, I think The Young Victoria is one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen and Victoria and Albert were cousins. But, in general, incest is not romantic and does tend to give me the squicks. So reading an entire book where relatives could not seem to keep their hands off each other was a new experience (but I mean, c'mon, I understand one generation going off the deep end, but the next generation as well? Is it a genetic thing? Why so much incest, Stephanides?)
This book follows three generations.
First, the grandparents. They were my favorite part of the entire book. Mostly because I had never heard of the Great Fire of Smyrna before and the scene was super intense and scary and, most of all, memorable. Every time I think of the Great Fire of Smyrna now, I will think of this book. I wish more of the book had been devoted to the Old Country, because it was the best.
Next, the second cousins. Not much to say...the history and the first generation immigrant kids thing was interesting, but not entirely memorable or new.
Lastly, Cal. Cal's childhood intrigued me. His relationship with his first crush (the Obscure Object) was...titillating. I very much feel that the Obscure Object grew up to be Lindsay Lohan. But then Cal ran away from home and my interest in the book waned.
Cal was actually the character I cared about least which is weird because he was the protagonist. But all the grown-up Cal scenes I had absolutely zero interest in.
Overall, a very solid book, excellent for book clubs or for when you want to read a book that entertains you AND makes you think. This is definitely a far, far improvement from The Virgin Suicides....more
This was a really good book for most of it. A little too wordy, a little slow to get started and Kingsolver cannot write from a five year old's POV asThis was a really good book for most of it. A little too wordy, a little slow to get started and Kingsolver cannot write from a five year old's POV as well as she think she can, but otherwise quite good. But the last 100 pages were completely unnecessary and squandered most of the goodwill I had for this book. I loved Anatole and Leah became my favorite daughter (partly because the rest were annoying, partly because she became awesome by her proximity to Anatole) but the last 100 pages made me sorry I had ever rooted for the two of them as Leah became increasingly sanctimonious and I liked her adult self very little. Basically, Kingsolver stopped writing a novel and just started preaching in the last 100 pages. I get it! Foreign powers effed up Africa! We shouldn't think we know better! The first 300 or so pages showed Kingsolver could get her message across without shoving it down the readers' throats, so it's a shame she felt she had to bludgeon us over the head with it at the end. ...more
This is debatably THE first nonfiction novel. It is also a landmark in the true crime genre. Did Capote fictionalize parts of it? I would vote almostThis is debatably THE first nonfiction novel. It is also a landmark in the true crime genre. Did Capote fictionalize parts of it? I would vote almost definitely yes—there is far too much dialogue for it all to be completely accurate. But, in the end, I don’t have a problem with that.
Capote very cleverly structures the book as Before the Murders, After the Murders, and (only after Perry and Dick are arrested), The Murders Themselves. It’s a good device to keep you hooked, and also gives a better sense of the tension of the Unknown that affected everyone in Holcomb. An entire family slaughtered, and no one knows why or by whom—or if it will happen again.
Although this is a seminal work, I can’t give it five stars. It felt way too slow. There were parts that just dragged. It didn’t help that I couldn’t keep Perry and Dick straight for the life of me. Which one was the short, muscular one with bad legs and the father in Alaska and the seemingly cursed siblings? Which one was the meaner one, the ringleader type who envied and hated those with an education? I don’t know why they blurred together in my mind so much, but they did. I also felt too much time was spent on them and the repetitive details of their lives pre-murders. Maybe all this attention had something to do with the rumored relationship between Capote and Perry (Perry was certainly more sympathetically presented than Dick). Maybe not. But I didn’t feel like all that time spent on Perry and Dick made me understand them or their decision to kill much better. It was essentially that they had crap lives (Perry) or were sociopaths (Dick).