Hynes does a fine job of making characters come to life and just as fine a job of plotting his creepy stories. At the word and sentence level he satisHynes does a fine job of making characters come to life and just as fine a job of plotting his creepy stories. At the word and sentence level he satisfies as well. He's a craftsman.
The trouble I had with all those deftly drawn characters is that many/most of them are asses (yah, poetic justice kind of requires that characters deserve what happens to them, so being an ass is a definite plus for a character who's going to get his life demolished).
But I just plain got tired of hanging out with them.
The stories in this collection are novellas and maybe that was my problem. If Hynes had simply drawn the characters, set them in motion, let them cause their fates and then drawn those in, say 4000 words each, I think I would have enjoyed the stories hugely. But at the novella length, the characters come to fully inhabit their lives...and the reader's head. I didn't much enjoy that....more
This book had so much to offer a lover of books and reading and writing BUT it was a huge mistake to buy this as an Audible.com download. If you're noThis book had so much to offer a lover of books and reading and writing BUT it was a huge mistake to buy this as an Audible.com download. If you're not conversant in the terminologies of reading theorists and researchers you really want to be able to flip back and forth, refer to earlier arguments, etc, stuff that's hard to do with an audiobook. ...more
I kind of wanted to lick my fingers when I finished the last sentence of this book, it was just so darn tasty.
This book is built around an original anI kind of wanted to lick my fingers when I finished the last sentence of this book, it was just so darn tasty.
This book is built around an original answer to one of the biggest of the big questions, and it's handled intelligently and with humor. Characters you wanted to spend time with live the answer and its question. Lovely, tight writing binds it all together.
I sort of wished I couldn't see the ending come from so far away, but it was handled with grace so even that was no big disappointment.
This book offers a deftly handled coming of age journey for not one but a handful of young people. Three in particular grow up (as much as they will/cThis book offers a deftly handled coming of age journey for not one but a handful of young people. Three in particular grow up (as much as they will/can) over the course of the novel, a couple more in cameos. And since Eugenides writes with a VERY sharp pen, each of these journeys is lovely to observe.
I've heard the work of people writing such novels described as 'hyperrealism.' And I guess that would be my criticism of this book. Like when I'm reading a Franzen novel, I felt stitched into the intricate, sometimes tedious day-to-day lives of the characters. Time passed like real time. Mistakes weighed what mistakes in real life weigh. With a few troubling and powerful exceptions, there is little tension, little drama...just like in life. There is life. The narrative thread disappears into it, resurfaces, breaks and begins again. The reader often knots the broken ends together in order to keep a narrative intact.
Sometimes this worked beautifully, when the characters seemed to both perfectly epitomize and also transcend their 'types.' Other times it hit me the way that television series (I made it through three episodes) called, I think, 24 did: it's a neat idea to offer a 1/1 correspondence between viewer and story time. A neat idea that is ultimately unsatisfying....more
As a window onto the Victorian age this novel is fun. As a window on the modern age's view of the Victorian age even more so. As an examination of genAs a window onto the Victorian age this novel is fun. As a window on the modern age's view of the Victorian age even more so. As an examination of gender assumptions (particularly the assumptions of men/society about women) it's important. As a stylistic rollercoaster ride, in which characters write bad poetry and quote good poetry and sentences do-se-do across meaning for entire paragraphs with footnote detours, it's perhaps less fun but the style is impressively handled and, for a novel about an age so ornamented that the essential substance of things is all but buried beneath decoration, perfect.
But it's as metafiction that 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' made itself one of my all-time favorite reads. I found myself re and re and rereading sections where the author stepped into - or out of, depending on how you see it - the fictions he said he was observing more than creating.
Check out the gleeful savagery with which Fowles describes the author character, aka himself, at the end of the book: "[The author character] looks very much as if he has given up preaching and gone in for grand opera; and done much better at the latter than the former."
A sentence or two later the author stares from a balcony at a house in which two main characters are having a life-changing confrontation "...with an almost proprietory [sic] air, as if it is some new theater he has just bought and is pretty confident he can fill. In this he has not changed: he very evidently regards the world as his to possess and use as he likes."
And the writer of those words? Where is he standing and what is he staring at and how does he regard the world? THAT is something I'll be thinking about for a while, and reason enough to reread this book one day.
Yes, the author as creator-character is a stance that has been handled well many times now. Milan Kundera took a masterful shot at it in 'Immortality.' The Kaufmans made a movie out of Susan Orlean's 'The Orchid Thief' which not only revolved around metafiction, it was the only movie i've ever seen based on a book that, to my mind, improved upon the book.
What Fowles does that I haven't seen elsewhere is judge the author. Harshly. Every serious writer has leveled a hard stare on the profession and its responsibilities to character and story, but most of us do it alone at 3 a.m. We don't lace it all the way through a novel. ...more