I first came across this book in the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, and was instantly attracted to its title and synopsis. I put off purchasing i...moreI first came across this book in the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, and was instantly attracted to its title and synopsis. I put off purchasing it until I returned to Canada, and then dove into it expecting a unique, perhaps tragic, love story. I was in for a rude surprise.
I found The Solitude of Prime Numbers to be an unnecessarily visceral book. Within the first fifty pages, Giordano's characters engage in urination, defecation, masturbation, vomiting, and self-mutilation, all in excessively graphic detail. It made me extremely uncomfortable.
Even worse is Giordano's tendency to slip unsavoury information into scenes where it is completely unnecessary and/or apropos of nothing.
"Alice looked in her bag for a rubber band and pulled back her hair. Crozza watched from across the shop. Once he had masturbated thinking about her, kneeling in the gloom after they'd lowered the security gate, but then he had felt so dreadful that he hadn't eaten and the next day he had sent her home saying you've got the day off today, I don't want anyone underfoot" (171).
As principal characters Alice and Mattia grow into adulthood, they turn into people in whom I was hard-pressed to find a single redeeming quality. Alice suffers from an eating disorder, is deeply selfish, and willing to lie and engage in blackmail. She works as a photographer, and after being unexpectedly commissioned to photograph the wedding of her high school bully, she tortures the poor couple. At the conclusion of the photo shoot:
"She smiled. She opened the back of the camera, took out the film, and unrolled it completely under the white light of the sun" (179).
Mattia's behaviour is downright reclusive, and I can't understand how anyone could love him, let alone two different admirers. He's a genius and very skilled at math, receiving scholarships to study in Germany. What others might have taken as an opportunity to explore, Mattia uses as a vehicle to withdraw. In a place where he knows no one, he makes every effort to be invisible and to let his ties to people back in Italy wither.
I really didn't find anything enjoyable about The Solitude of Prime Numbers. After 190 pages and absolutely no emotional satisfaction, I've decided to put it down. I wish I hadn't spent money on it.(less)
I received an ebook of The Priest and the Peaches in exchange for an honest review. Before I’d even finished the first chapter I had to Google it to c...moreI received an ebook of The Priest and the Peaches in exchange for an honest review. Before I’d even finished the first chapter I had to Google it to check if the book was self-published. It wasn’t, and I balked. I’ve read self-published books of far superior quality–how could a professionally published and edited book be so bad? The grammatically incorrect title should have tipped me off. The family’s last name is Peach, not Peache. When pluralized it should be written as ‘Peachs,’ not ‘Peaches,’ which is how the fruit would be pluralized.
I got about one-quarter of the way through this book before I couldn’t force myself to read any more. The concept of The Priest and the Peaches isn’t a bad one, but it’s written so poorly that it was difficult to pay attention or care about what happened in the novel. Peterson crams too much exposition into the dialogue, which makes speech sound unnatural. He frequently uses the amateurish “By the way…” in dialogue to create unnatural segues between topics. Conversation lacks realistic flow and the characters are quickly reduced to talking heads, the puppets of the ill-concealed author.
Clumsy, often incorrect use of punctuation makes reading difficult. The biggest difficulty I had in reading it was inconsistent use of commas, which made the flow of sentences nearly indecipherable at times. I had to go back and reread a couple of paragraphs because I was convinced I’d missed the meaning entirely.
What finally made me give up, though, was a scene between the priest and the Peach children that centres mostly around theological discussion. The youngest children are too young to really follow the conversation, and so it is carried on mostly by the priest and the teenage Peachs. Most of The Priest and the Peaches is set up to facilitate sympathy for the teen Peachs, and the same is expected in this scene. The problem is, these near-adult characters receive Sunday school-level lessons from their priest. He encourages them to consider ways of thinking and perceiving that most people encounter between first and fourth grades. It’s an insult to the reader’s intelligence to think that characters in their late teens and, by extension, the audience, need to hear such simple philosophy to feel comfort.
Don’t waste your time with this one. It should have undergone much more rigorous editing before publication.(less)