Well, well, the things I end up reading when I randomly pick books.
This story doesn't have a thesis, a central plot, or anything cohesive to it at all...moreWell, well, the things I end up reading when I randomly pick books.
This story doesn't have a thesis, a central plot, or anything cohesive to it at all. It is just a bunch of unconnected terrible things happening to the heroine. It's like the writer threw in a tragic event every time he got stuck in his writing but forgot that telling a story involves some kind of continuity. It's funny because in many writing courses they actually give out that advice, ie. when you get stuck, throw a major event at your character and see how they negotiate it.
I have seen many people praise the writer for getting into the head of a woman. I have to disagree. The main character had the most unconvincing supposed female voice I have ever read. The bit with her pregnancy and giving birth is treated as if it were a business transaction - she puked she broke water she pushed. Wham and bam and that was it.
She expresses numerous times in intimate detail the amount of money she spends on various items, exactly how much money she "drops" on cars and clothes and rent and how much she earns. She also gives us intimate details of her budgeting, her jobs, and how incredibly good she is at making money at all times. She gives a blow by blow account of her purchases and how much they cost, only a few months after her only child dies, which supposedly leaves her utterly adrift from the world. I find it hard to accept that any woman would be noting the exact cost of things and talking about how much she "dropped" at that time of her life.
And then there are the very long and detailed pages about the neighbourhoods in Calgary. I felt like I was sitting in an estate agent's car, being informed about the lack of historic buildings, the good and bad areas, the ones with lovely coffee shops and "loft scenes", and the ugly outskirts. All of this just after the death of her child. Ergh, no. Just no.
I reckon that the writer did a lot of research for this book, and probably went to Calgary and made notes about the neighbourhoods and put them in his book with little editing or thought to the tone of the chapter. I think he also made extensive notes about the cost of everything and decided to use every single note he made.
Other bits were just bad writing. At one point the character noted that she spent every day frequenting the "two or three" bookstores on a certain street. Seriously? She goes there every day and doesn't know if there are exactly two or three?
Don't get me started on the use of parentheses. Not a single one of the bracketed comments added anything to the narrative.
For example, we know from the start that the character's name is Jane Howard, and yet right near the end she pretends to be a journalist and tells people her name is "Nancy Lloyd (a name I simply made up)..." Well you would have to be the dumbest reader on this earth to not realise that she made the name up. I am insulted that the writer felt that I was so dumb that I could not figure it out without his help.
Another weird note - the protagonist's first lover had a wife who was bipolar and a son who was schizophrenic and in an institution. Right near the end of the book, her kind of lover friend is bipolar and a has a daughter who is schizophrenic and in an institution. A bizarre coincidence I feel, and yet she makes no comment about it at all. Almost as if her first lover never existed.
I almost wonder if the writer forgot about the first lover in this set of circumstances, and had the idea in his mind - must have male character haunted in some way by bipolar, with schizophrenic child, and added it in a second time by mistake. Or maybe I am wrong and he just really like that particular set of circumstances. Who knows.
Argh. I have no idea what the writer was trying to do with this book, where it was supposed to be going. I can only guess a deadline was looming.
The book is readable, I give it that. If it had been shorter I would have had fewer bad things to say, but it prolonged my displeasure a little too long.(less)
The things I read on holiday. It was all there was, and my aunt urged me to read it because she loves forensics stories and since I may be studying fo...moreThe things I read on holiday. It was all there was, and my aunt urged me to read it because she loves forensics stories and since I may be studying forensics I should read it too. Well, a badly written forensics story is no fun to read, but I reckon it would work well as an episode of Bones.(less)
A surprisingly enjoyable read considering the very thought of opening Eat, Pray, Love causes my blood pressure to rise. Granted, I only read it becaus...moreA surprisingly enjoyable read considering the very thought of opening Eat, Pray, Love causes my blood pressure to rise. Granted, I only read it because I was on holiday and it was there, but it demonstrates my own ambivalence towards marriage as a Western woman quite well. Marrying for a visa would be the only time I would be prepared to consider that mad monolith of legislation too.(less)
I get what the author was trying to do and it was a good concept, but there was nothing substantial to develop the idea and give it life. It felt like...moreI get what the author was trying to do and it was a good concept, but there was nothing substantial to develop the idea and give it life. It felt like I was reading a planning draft rather than the real thing.(less)
I somehow felt cheated by this book. It came across as autobiography hiding behind fiction. I don't know anything about the author and if this is true...moreI somehow felt cheated by this book. It came across as autobiography hiding behind fiction. I don't know anything about the author and if this is true, but this book had no story, was just a pastiche of events in a troubled life. I felt like even though it was brilliantly written, it had nothing to say. The characters are not fleshed out and the ending seems bizarre and disconnected to the rest, except for the fact that a similar situation happened to the author himself. I was left wanting much more.(less)
I'm not usually a fan of this genre but I heard good things about this book so I decided to give it a try. I had no expectations going in and found my...moreI'm not usually a fan of this genre but I heard good things about this book so I decided to give it a try. I had no expectations going in and found myself gripped! I couldn't stop reading like a rabid beast, until the end.
I found the book to be really enjoyable and addictive if you read it in one go. Afterwards when I think back, the storyline did become a bit extreme and over the top, and somewhat hard to swallow in the last quarter, and the characters became caricatures of madness with little grounding in reality, but I still really enjoyed it, I think because it was a bit of a farce or like reading black comedy. The madness was part of the fun.(less)
This is not a genre I would normally read, but I found it in a book swap on holiday and read it for the sake of reading and I loved it! It is probably...moreThis is not a genre I would normally read, but I found it in a book swap on holiday and read it for the sake of reading and I loved it! It is probably the best book about Australia that I have read.(less)