Jeff Lindsay needs a lesson in “Show, don’t tell.”
This novel is the perfect example of a stellar idea in the hands of a mediocre writer. Dexter flouri...moreJeff Lindsay needs a lesson in “Show, don’t tell.”
This novel is the perfect example of a stellar idea in the hands of a mediocre writer. Dexter flourished as a television show - It remains one of the few dramas that I’ve ever genuinely looked forward to watching each week. From the character development to the pacing to the constant build-up of suspense, the show is wonderful. Yet this novel lacks all of that.
The characters that we’re shown are simply two-dimensional placeholders. Dexter seems to be the only one with a working brain. Everyone around him is wholly incapable of piecing an intelligent thought together and keeping up with his genius. This gets very tiring after only a few chapters. In the entire police force within a city as large as Miami, it’s completely illogical that only one man would be capable of tracking and IDing a criminal. Moreover, when that one man is a blood splatter analyst, it makes no sense for him to be afforded any time within this investigation, at all. Dexter is constantly allowed privileges that are both unrealistic and inconsistent with the way that all other personnel is treated. He’s quite the special snowflake.
Dexter’s golden boy treatment extends into the way that he actually solves this mystery, as well. He does little to no true detective work. All of his insights come from dreams and psychic visions - It isn’t a matter of him understanding the killer’s personality and motivations, but instead it’s a matter of Dexter getting ~feelings~ and very vivid dreams that turn out to be real. From a crime novel, I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of crime solving. At few points in time does Dexter base his conclusions on logical thinking, crime scene clues or deduction. To have all of the answers given to him mystically? It’s unsatisfying and none of it lines up with the narrative that Lindsay gives us. For a protagonist who is supposedly a genius of MENSA-like proportions, he sure doesn't exhibit half the intelligent characteristics that we're told he has.
In the end, I expected much more from this novel. It really wasn’t worth my time. (less)
Rabelais, Bret Easton Ellis, Anthony Burgess and Charles Bukowski all did it better.
This novel is a fairly mediocre work of transgressive fiction. Al...moreRabelais, Bret Easton Ellis, Anthony Burgess and Charles Bukowski all did it better.
This novel is a fairly mediocre work of transgressive fiction. Although Amis may have written this before such stories as “American Psycho" were published, “Money" really doesn’t hold a candle to the best transgressive writings today. It’s an ill attempt at shocking the audience with depravity that is quite common and well known to most of us.
I’m really supposed to be shocked that a man would rape? Would visit prostitutes? Would drunk drive? We all know, often too well, that these acts are committed every day. Reading about them through the eyes of a white middle-aged middle-class man does not present the sort of jarring horror that Amis seems to seek.
By presenting these forms of violence in his main character, Amis flaunts John Self and yet still expects us to sympathize with his many downfalls. I never felt as though I’d be able to related to him or understand him. If anything, his moments of self-pity and self-loathing simply made him more disgusting.
I did find it interesting how John Self was played against the many actors that he worked with while planning his new film. Lorne Guyland, Caduta Massi, Spunk Davis - These characters are downright ludicrous. They each have intense foibles and flaws, but their actions border on the ridiculous instead of the disgusting. Each of the actors are obvious caricatures that are based on the many “types" of Hollywood stars. They create the opportunity for some interesting encounters and jokes. Just don’t mistake their scenes for actual humor: I was laughing at them, not with them.
But truly, the only thing that kept me reading throughout the story was the expectation of a suicide ending. To know that John Self would take his own life was reassuring, in a way. His death, and therefore his transition into nothingness, was the only thing that could have redeemed him as a character. It wasn’t the desire for vengeance or karma that made me look forward to seeing such a horrible person die, but rather the thought that Self simply shouldn’t exist as a person. He is inhumane and downright offensive right from the start. But Amis takes away even this small comfort, leaving John alive at the end. Was I intended to be happy about this supposed redemption? Is the reader meant to finally see that all of John’s problems were caused by money? That without money, he is finally a worthwhile man? Forget that - The ending is wholly ineffective and leaves too many loose ends. John’s forced change of attitude is not enough.
To the many reviews that called this book “funny" and “humorous," I can’t help but wonder if we read the same thing.(less)
Considering that the majority of this book was build up, the pay off occurred very quickly and with little satisfaction.
McKillip has a wonderful tale...moreConsidering that the majority of this book was build up, the pay off occurred very quickly and with little satisfaction.
McKillip has a wonderful talent for worldbuilding. Her setting and characters kept me intrigued no matter where the chapters' focus jumped. From Sealey Head to Ysabo's castle to Gwyneth's story, I was genuinely interested in finding out how each plotline developed. McKillip's ability to maintain that balance between all three, not to mention the different points of view within Sealey Head, was masterful.
Yet the novel's ending felt unfulfilling. The bell itself was discovered suddenly and had very little connection with the rest of the story. From there, the bell's influence (for lack of a better spoiler-free term) felt far too spontaneous and neat. I expected to see a more exciting ending where each of the story's threads were tied together. Instead, what I got was a quick fix. The last few chapters were dull in comparison to the mystery that surrounded them.
Overall, I'll gladly continue reading McKillip's work. Her highly detailed version of fantasy is something that I've always enjoyed. But I feel that this is one of her weaker works. It'll likely collect dust on my shelf while I reread "Alphabet of Thorn" over and over again in the coming years. (less)
Mann presents three main arguments that contradict the textbook version of Pre-Columbian history that many of us are familiar with. First, he states t...moreMann presents three main arguments that contradict the textbook version of Pre-Columbian history that many of us are familiar with. First, he states that Indian societies were larger and more populous than previously believed. Second, he states that they were older and more sophisticated. And lastly, he states that they had a greater impact on the environment. These main propositions paint a version of history that is vastly different from the sparse tribes and pristine wilderness that tends to be associated with Natives.
Overall, it works in Mann’s favor that he is a journalist instead of a historian or cultural anthropologist. His writing style makes this book an enjoyable and personal read. He manages to include his own anecdotes in a way that both complements and reinforces the factual points he seeks to make. This is something that’s difficult to accomplish for even the most seasoned non-fiction writer.
However, his background also means that this work cannot be viewed in a strictly academic sense. This is not a historiographic text, nor should it be used as one. Mann simply glosses over the past histories written about Native civilizations. He provides us with the basic information while assuming that his audience is well-versed in Indian stereotypes. And this works for him. It makes his book accessible to the casual reader and history buff. Yet since his background is that of a non-specialist, this book can’t be used as a serious academic resource. It provides a thorough introduction, a good jumping point and presents a basic structural argument, but it’s still only meant for popular consumption. “1491” cannot replace actually research or academic reading in this field.
For those who are interested in starting to learn about indigenous history, or for those who feel that their American history textbooks had some horrible plotholes, then I highly recommend picking this up. It’s well worth your time. Even if you only glance through Mann’s bibliography, this book has the potential to open up a realm of historical studies that 99% of Americans won’t get within a public school.(less)