My 2005 review: As with every book I've read by Dickens, I enjoyed it very much. Though I have to say, for a Dickensian protaganist, Pip was decidedly...moreMy 2005 review: As with every book I've read by Dickens, I enjoyed it very much. Though I have to say, for a Dickensian protaganist, Pip was decidedly unlikeable and shallow. Only at the very end does he redeem himself at all. As always, Boz filled his pages with rich characters and his wonderful sense of humour. I'm not sure whether I incline to approving of the published ending or the original. I did like the idea of Joe and Biddy ending up together though--they really deserved one another. I kept hoping that somehow, Pip's inheritence (or at least a part of it) would come through as a suprise at the end. Also, I would have liked Pumblechook to be put in his place.(less)
What great fun this was! I read it all in one shot (with only a brief forray into Jane Eyre to refresh my memory about the nuances of the ending). I e...moreWhat great fun this was! I read it all in one shot (with only a brief forray into Jane Eyre to refresh my memory about the nuances of the ending). I enjoyed everything about it: the humour, the cleverness of Thursday's created world (along with the alternate history), the characters. I'm looking forward to reading the others! (less)
Finally, I'm getting around to writing my review in preparation for sending this book on to vivdripper. I'm hoping, zzfriend, that you won't mind a d...more Finally, I'm getting around to writing my review in preparation for sending this book on to vivdripper. I'm hoping, zzfriend, that you won't mind a detailed, sometimes critical, review (I believe that one of the reasons for this ring was to get some feedback, right? and I *am* an editor, so I'm going to deliver ;-) ). For those who follow in the ring, you might want to wait until after you've read the book yourself so my comments don't influence your appreciation of the book.
Prefatory Comments: One caveat--I don't generally care for stories (whether books or movies) in which animals are anthropomorphised to this degree (wearing clothes, operating machinery, being rockstars(!), etc. So it might or might not have been something I would have picked up on my own. It took me a while to get over that initial discomfort, even though I had determined to read with an open mind. I don't know much about boats or sailing (should I say boating, since there aren't any sails?), so I initially found some of the technical jargon a bit of an obstacle (later in the book & on a second reading it didn't seem to impede as much).
Design (not usually something I comment on in a review, but I know zzfriend will probably be interested in opinions about the look of the original product; not having seen a copy of the new compilation, I don't know what design features have been addressed or changed): Format--I liked the size/shape of the book, but since it didn't have a standard proportion, it might seem subliminally more juvenile.
Cover/Dustjacket--The colour & jacket design was okay (though again, the illustration might lead to a belief that the book is a children's book). I didn't think the blurb/excerpt on the back was engaging & I probably would not have investigated much further. I think a short plot summary (not a long one as on the front inside flap) with a cliff-hanger would have done better. Interior--The paragraphing bothered me (i.e. spaces between paragraphs instead of indenting--okay for a computer screen, but not in print). The map was nearly impossible to read, and didn't seem to have much use in any case. I did like the illustrations a lot though (I always enjoy illustrated books--which aren't and shouldn't be just for kids).
Premise: There were a few nit-picky problems I had with the premise both of the whole and of the specific plot. Although rats wouldn't be saved by the regular Coast Guard, surely the crew's pets would be saved in a regular rescue? (I would have thought so, but I just saw on Animal Miracles last week, some idiot guy on an adrift oil tanker was rescued by a cruise ship & he *forgot* his dog that had been on the ship with him for 2 years! The dog was eventually rescued by the Hawaiian Coast Guard 20-odd days later! Poor thing. If only there had been some Rescue Ferrets around.). About this particular story: why wouldn't the human scientists have brought as much of their data as they could--they would have known how important it was *and* which of the material was most important to preserve.
Story: Once I got past the anthropomorphization, things picked up for me. I liked the main part of the story--once Chloe came on board as well as the Deepsea Explorer rescue. I really liked the characters, and felt affection for all of them--very well drawn, zzfriend. I thought the "near-death" vision was a little hokey--I think just because it seemed out of place with the "secular realism" of the rest of the book (notwithstanding the doubtful realism of ferret rock stars). I'm curious to know what happens next (do any of these characters appear later?) & would certainly read the other books in the series.(less)
Where it Comes From, Where it Goes: I liked the story, but it left me confused. I didn't understand what happened to his gift. Will it come back? Why...moreWhere it Comes From, Where it Goes: I liked the story, but it left me confused. I didn't understand what happened to his gift. Will it come back? Why did it go? Why didn't he just put a lock on the box?
The Angel's Share: Again this story left me confused. Evelyn is obviously running from something. But what? Does it have to do with her father (he died?). I don't really get the ending either. I didn't really connect with her character.
The Alcoholist: I liked this one a bit, but again... It seems as though Gaston's characters (I've never read anything by him before) are like leaves in a creek--they just get drawn by external forces and have no real substance of thier own. (view spoiler)[Evelyn in the last story gets "pulled" by the boulder when she goes to throw it over the cliff & van Luven gets drawn to slash his wrist with the oyster. (hide spoiler)]
Overall (so far), I don't see the shine of these stories or the writing.
Driving Under the Influence: (view spoiler)[Got to the end of this one thinking, so what's the point? Idiot drives drunk, doesn't get caught twice by idiot cop, going to get caught the third time & why the hell did Patrice stay with this loser for so long. She must be a real winner herself. Poor dog. (hide spoiler)]
Comedian Tire: This one seemed to end (again) before the story was over. Connected with the narrator, but felt the story was missing something.
So far, I can't see why the critics were so impressed with these stories. I really enjoy a good short story, but so far I'm totally underwhelmed by Gaston. I'll keep reading though. Maybe there will be one gem among the 12.
The Little Drug Addict that Could: So-so. Again, the main character just seems to be drawn along by circumstance. Another divorced man--I see a pattern.
The Hangover: Finally a story that I find halfway decent. The title having a double meaning was pretty good. Still not impressed though
Forest Path: Yet another in a long line of self-exiled uninspiring men. Oh, make that two. I'm curious to see what if any relation this story has to Mount Appetite.
Maria's Older Brother: The build-up was good but the result disappointing. I was expecting something much more drastic to have happened at the end. I mean, if the girl was "lying in state" as it were, and in such a condition that the people at the house were not repulsed, the reaction of the kids seems to be a bit exaggerated.
The Bronze Miracle: This one was okay, but not great. It seemed like some of this was going on in the narrator's head. It bothered me (although I realise that was the point) that we don't know who the boy turned out to be, but neither possibility put forth by the narrator seemed right.
Northern Cod: My favourite story in the collection, but again we have a protaganist (a woman this time for some variety) who is in some kind of fallen apart marriage & helpless (i.e. the consistent phone-calling to her husband who's not home).
Mount Appetite: this story was captivating & a just ending (maybe?), but still below par as far as I'm concerned.
Overall, this was a very disappointing read. Haven't a clue why it got such rave reviews and awards. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
" Yes, it takes a wise government to know when to stick to precedents and existing laws and when to change...moreMy only comment on this dialogue (mid-read):
" Yes, it takes a wise government to know when to stick to precedents and existing laws and when to change them to suit new conditions. Even moreso when those laws are thought to be based on some kind of sacred principle (e.g. the Bible) or hallowed patriotism.
I believe the Stranger will continue in this dialogue to expolore what makes a real government (one that acts in the best interest of the people) and what is only a poor imitation. "(less)