Can I call anything "art" if the one sentence I remember years later, the one thing that burned itself into my memory was a line about "the ugly gashCan I call anything "art" if the one sentence I remember years later, the one thing that burned itself into my memory was a line about "the ugly gash between her legs" referring to some female character's genitals? As a fifteen year old girl, that really eclipsed everything else for me. It was just a blow which confirmed my nonexistence. I mean, yeah, spoken through Grendel, a fictional character, he's supposed to be nasty, he gets what's coming to him, blah blah...but it was so unnecessary and stuck out like a sore thumb. That's really all I remember, years later, about this book. That beautiful, unusual poetic language was used to creatively forge new misogyny. I'm a killjoy, whatever.
Also, besides that, it was pretentious, overambitious, and repetitive....more
Yeah, okay, sexism and racism. But also, this book is just SO POORLY WRITTEN. Not even poorly, that's not the word. Just so...adequate? Dime-store? CHYeah, okay, sexism and racism. But also, this book is just SO POORLY WRITTEN. Not even poorly, that's not the word. Just so...adequate? Dime-store? CHEAPLY, that's the word I'm looking for. That bothers me way more than any moral outrage. If he'd just give me something beautiful once in a while I could slog through the bigotry. But I just can't. It's so...pedestrian and blunt and bibbity-bobbity choppy blaaaaaahhhhhh. One long sing-song, babbling, advertising jingo slogan sentence. It's like excessive concern for hypermasculinity degrades your language faculties and you're PROUD of it. It's like, WTF happened, doubleplusgood words came in fashion. George Orwell and Shakespeare both crying in their graves....more
Prose and writing style is adequately elegant and editing was evident in a good wGood. Not great, but good.
A solid 4 stars, not 3.5 or 4.5. Exactly 4.
Prose and writing style is adequately elegant and editing was evident in a good way.
Plot could have used some work- mostly it meanders and smooshes together several genres in a way that halfway succeeds. Also feels a bit lacking, a bit unfinished. Reads like an account of dry facts sometimes. The blaming of everything on irrefutable "nature" is futile and has no place in a novel, which should examine cause and effect. If that makes sense. We are left with what is clearly a tragedy but doesn't feel like one, feels hollow. I very rarely say this, but this particular author is almost too restrained- she could have benefitted from some good old fashioned emotionally manipulative melodrama and not just purposefully understated everything.
Characters felt very real, but got no closure.
Worth the read. At its best when it is simply a portrait of married life with young children and aging, things that are not often seen in novels and are done quite exceptionally well here.
Minor quibble- She's not terribly convincing at writing in a male voice. The sexual thoughts were particularly cringeworthy. Narrator also quite boring....more
Appropriate that I read this in April, because April Wheeler is the human heart of this book. Impressive how Yates draws you into Frank Wheeler's worlAppropriate that I read this in April, because April Wheeler is the human heart of this book. Impressive how Yates draws you into Frank Wheeler's world for most of the book and then for one devastating chapter 3/4s of the way in, allows you to see how much deeper, more mature, and sad April's character has been all this time without it showing on her surface. She's the unconscious heart and soul and intelligence of the entire cast, the whole community, and the tragedy is that they don't realize this- even she doesn't- because she's been duped all her life into thinking she's unimportant, and her husband Frank gets all the credit. Definitely has feminist echoes there. When Frank starts to believe his own hubris and her flattery, he's lost. Moving. Would have made 5 stars except for the flaw of having a weak opening and a weak ending. The first page is of lower quality than the rest of the novel with no compelling literary hook, and the end just barely pulls off melodramatic and leaves a few loose ends. Everything in between is a perfect literary masterpiece. Madame Bovary was Yates' inspiration; on first glance it's hard to compare the two but on second there's a deep parallel....more