I wanted SO much to love this novel, as it appeared to have many elements I like, yet nothing ends up amounting to much. Big things happen, and end up...moreI wanted SO much to love this novel, as it appeared to have many elements I like, yet nothing ends up amounting to much. Big things happen, and end up abandoned. I also feel like we never really know the title character very well at all. The last chapter's reveal seemed too random, especially with all we'd known about Coral's jaded disposition. In the end, I was just left disappointed, and with the feeling that I was missing out on something big (not unlike Major Hart's character).
I suggest going into it with the mindset that this will be a quiet little book about missed connections, irreversible choices, and a deep, sorrowful longing, no more, no less. It's not a terrible book, but it definitely left me wanting something more.(less)
As others have noted, this had such an interesting premise, but it just failed to deliver the goods.
There were many problems with it, like messy, ove...moreAs others have noted, this had such an interesting premise, but it just failed to deliver the goods.
There were many problems with it, like messy, overly-descriptive writing (reading about Celia's wardrobe, Chandresh's lavish home, and the clock tower was enough to give me a headache from eyestrain) and sparse character development (people tend to fall in love very quickly in this universe). At times, the book had a fanfic-like vibe to it. I felt like with more time and editing, this book could have been much better, as Erin Morgenstern definitely shows promise, yet with this book she's just not quite there yet. (less)
This was a very bland translation - its "prose" was so basic and to-the-point that made it hard to stay interested at times.
Also, on a different note...moreThis was a very bland translation - its "prose" was so basic and to-the-point that made it hard to stay interested at times.
Also, on a different note, there seemed to be a running theme of domestic violence against women, and a lot of the women are either written as quiet and docile, or badgering and materialistic. In the title story, "Dark Water", the main character is described as prudish, seeing sex as something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Maybe the author is hinting that something irrevocably traumatized her in her relationships with men, or maybe she's simply asexual. Perhaps certain aspects of these stories are supposed to be a commentary on society (domestic violence reports in Japan reached a record high a few years ago). We're left to draw our own conclusions.
Don't expect every story to be a typical horror story, many just have the thread of the slightly strange or unexplained running through them ( which left me with befuddled "well...okay then" at times). Overall, I recommend "Dream Cruise" and "Adrift" as the best and creepiest of the lot.(less)
I'm convinced this is what happens if you combine a Whit Stillman script, Franny and Zooey, and a whole lot of beige. There's some beautiful writing h...moreI'm convinced this is what happens if you combine a Whit Stillman script, Franny and Zooey, and a whole lot of beige. There's some beautiful writing here, unfortunately there's equally lot of bland writing. It doesn't help that the characters are dull either. At times, I couldn't believe that this was nine years in the making...yet at the same time I could. Let's just say the writing has a certain over-wrought feel to it.
Madeleine, the main heroine is a snooze. She's basically a stock dream girl - to quote one passage: "She may have looked normal on the outside but once you'd seen her handwriting you knew she was deliciously complicated inside". Uh, how about no.
I'm not sure if this was something on the authors part to show us how much Mitchell (the third corner of the love triangle) romanticized her, but the author doesn't seem to make this clear (what he does make clear though is that she's VERY attractive). There doesn't seem to be any real life in her, as Eugenides seems to tell rather than show how allegedly interesting and brilliant she is. It's unfortunate and the book definitely suffers because of it.
Her suitors, Mitchell and Leonard seem to have a little more to them, Leonard more so - his section is where the book finally gets going. He's as vulnerable as he is flawed, and we begin to see why Madeleine is obsessed with him. Yet there's also a point where his motives become downright scary. He's pompous, but unlike the other two, he's at least somewhat interesting. Unfortunately he's given only one section of the book.
The third protagonist, Mitchell, is an intellectual religious studies major from Detroit, so there's a bit of Middlesex-like feel to certain parts of his character, as he also has a Greek background. But Mitchell has the terrible distinction of being "the nice guy" of the story. It doesn't help that he seems to be plagued with the smarmy blandness that Madeleine suffers from. In the end, I really couldn't bring myself to care whether or not these two privileged, neurotic intellectuals would ever find true love with each other.
There's also a lot of references to books and authors, like Barthes and Derrida. At times I felt as if I were reading a dissertation or a meditation rather than a book with a plot - which considering the subject matter, I suppose is intentionally ironic, but still tedious. Overall, I can't help but feel this is something only an English major could love. Definitely a disappointment from Eugenides.(less)
Ridiculous, creepy, and extremely dated, much like a late 60s/early 70s horror movie. I wasn't surprised to find out that Richard Matheson also wrote...moreRidiculous, creepy, and extremely dated, much like a late 60s/early 70s horror movie. I wasn't surprised to find out that Richard Matheson also wrote for anthology shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and The Outer Limits. There's some genuine scares here, but the ending left me asking "...that was it?". All in all, not a bad read if you're into this sort of retro-horror, but a classic it is not. Like a late night b-movie, I recommend going into it with an open mind and low expectations. (less)
How this was actually published is one of life's little mysteries. If you love David Sedaris, don't waste your time with this book. However, if you th...moreHow this was actually published is one of life's little mysteries. If you love David Sedaris, don't waste your time with this book. However, if you think he can do no wrong, then I suppose you can check this out for proof that he in fact, can (I was also a non-believer). Yet even then...
In other words: Avoid, avoid, avoid. I cannot stress this enough. (less)