I've been fantasizing about writing this review, because this is the worst book I have read in quite some time. I know that my hatred is at least part...moreI've been fantasizing about writing this review, because this is the worst book I have read in quite some time. I know that my hatred is at least partially driven by the fact that this is the first book I've read after finishing The Goldfinch, which was magnificent; any fiction would feel poorly written and paltry next to it. I'm a huge baseball fan (go Bucs!) and I love a good fictionalized account of the baseball life, so I was really looking forward to this one. I've had it on my to-read list since it landed on a bunch of best of 2011 round-ups. Part of me is bummed that it was so bad, but mostly I'm confused by all of the five-star reviews and plaudits.
First, this is just not a well-written book. A character's phone "ring-a-ding-dings" on his desk (seriously). There's a lot of pseudo-philosophical junk spewed by the characters in their darkest hours. According to my Kindle, these passages were the most highlighted, but they make no sense. Example: "Had he learned — would he ever learn — to discard the thoughts he could not use? It remained an open question, how much sympathy love could stand." What? This reads like a terrible young adult novel where every character sounds and talks and thinks the same.
Second, it was extremely tough for the ridiculously named characters (there is seriously a guy named Quentin Quisp) to endear themselves to me. I just could not bother to care about these people. I had no stake in Henry's career, Mike's connection to his college, or Pella's reasserting of her independence. Everyone was two-dimensional and seemed to exist solely for the author to put them in other characters' ways. I can almost see the author's map of the plot in my head: X character has to appear at this time so Y can happen. X character will never be heard from again.
Third, even when I did manage to scrounge up a modicum of interest in the characters' lives, I found myself falling into massive plot holes. It's not a short book, but subplots are proposed and then never heard about again. Things that seem like they'll come back don't; things that seem like throwaway ideas turn out to be everywhere.
It's just.. a perfect storm of terrible. I need a palate cleanser.(less)
This one was disappointing in a few ways: first, the first quarter or so of the book was extremely engaging as we followed Franz on his adventure. The...moreThis one was disappointing in a few ways: first, the first quarter or so of the book was extremely engaging as we followed Franz on his adventure. There was more than one time that I thought to myself "this language is so beautiful I can hardly contain myself." I mean, there are few things better in life than Nabokov writing madness in some form, right? The disappointing part was that it really slowed down toward the middle and never really picked by up. By the end, things had really just petered out, and while I was interested in what was happening with the characters, I just didn't feel engaged like I wanted to.
The second disappointment is that this is my second Nabokov and my first was Pale Fire, arguably one of the greatest books ever written. This is the curse of reading an author's lesser known, lesser admired work after reading one of his masterpieces.
All in all, it was still an enjoyable read - just not too exciting.(less)
I absolutely adored the first story, At The Bay, but was disappointed from there on out. The stories are just kind of boring, and I found myself pushi...moreI absolutely adored the first story, At The Bay, but was disappointed from there on out. The stories are just kind of boring, and I found myself pushing through to finish.(less)