Madeline's Reviews > Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
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Feb 03, 08

bookshelves: ugh

You know that guy who's at every party, the one who loves to hear himself talk and tells long-winded stories while the unlucky few who got caught in his gravitational pull nod politely and and start eyeing the exits?
Yeah. David Guterson is That Guy.
His book has a really intersesting subject: a few years after World War Two, a man of Japanese descent is accused of killing a white man on the small island community of San Piedro. The story follows the trial and breaks every now and then for flashbacks about various characters' pasts. Good story, but Guterson bogs it down with absolutely pointless backstories and details. I didn't need to know, for example, what six different random San Piedro residents did when the huge blizzard hit, or how the accused man's wife's mother was a mail order bride from Japan. And I think the book would have been equally enjoyable if Guterson hadn't treated his readers to a description of how the murder victim spent his last day alive screwing his wife in the shower.
Guterson also works hard to keep his story dramatic (the courtroom scenes, I might add, are mind-numbingly boring). The accused man, Miyamoto, at first denies knowledge of the murder and then changes his story towards the end of the book, and whenever a character asks Miyamoto why he didn't tell the truth from the beginning, Guterson is careful to arrange the dialogue so Miyamoto never has to actually answer that question. Similarly, when a character uncovers some Very Important Evidence towards the end of the book, he takes his sweet time delivering the evidence to the judge so Guterson can stretch his story out for thirty more pages.
By the last fifty pages of the book, I was just waiting for it to end and hoping there would be a really good twist ending that would make the whole experience better.
(by the way: there isn't one)


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Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

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Matt Nicholas I felt similiar to this reviewer...when will this story wrap up? Some nice characertization was offset by the pace of the story. It could have been so much better.


Deidre Great comment, couldn't have said it better. I felt that the story had lots of potential but I was getting so annoyed with the pacing.


Melissa ugh same here, sometimes i just don't care!! every time i felt like it was time for something to be resolved he would intorduce a new character and hence another chapter of description..enough already!!!


David Well said Madeline. I found myself mildly interested in the actual story but I simply did not need to know or read entire chapters about minor characters. The jumps from present to past seemed endless, much like this book. from time to time. I'm not looking to bash by any means but I honestly found myself skipping entire chapters towards the end so I could move on to something else.


message 5: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe it was like the english patient but without the sexy


Letty Not for folks with short attention spans. A lovely, thought-provoking, thoroughly engaging book. It will weave a powerful spell if you let it, and I hope you do.


Madeline Clearly I didn't, as the rating indicates. And a dislike of pointless detail isn't the same thing as a short attention span. I got through The Count of Monte Cristo with no trouble, and it's not nearly as long as this one. Dumas doesn't bloat his story with pointless filler scenes.


Jill Crosby I wanted to grab Guterson by the lapels and holler in his face: "Enough with the fishing lingo already! And I don't CARE what kind of knots the deceased tied in his fishing line!!!"


Diego Palomino The story on the surface is about the trial of Kabuo but on the larger scale is about the town and ultimately society.
What is on trial is the absurdity of it all, this case lacked evidence and should have never gone to trial but what fueled it was the history of the inhabitants of the island. They are the ones on trial and therefore society as a whole, that is why their story has to be told. Not just to fill space.
From the time of Kabuo's arrest it became clear to me that the focus of the story was larger. In some ways it reminded me of Kafka's The Trial for it's absurdity but as with that story if you focus on the outcome of the trial you miss the point.


message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna Thanks for giving up the end of the story in your review. I hate when people do that.


Madeline Exactly how did I ruin the ending for you? Saying that there isn't a twist ending is not a spoiler.


message 12: by Sarah Mason (new)

Sarah Mason I hate when people leave rude/mean comments. Things that should've been left unsaid. Don't say anything at all if you don't have anything nice to say. Or a proper way to say it.


Madeline If your advice to me is "don't say anything at all if you don't have anything nice to say" you should probably stop following my reviews. You'll only be disappointed.


Ashley I think she was talking to Anna. Hopefully everyone who is following you knows by now to expect much clever sass.


message 15: by McKenzie (new)

McKenzie seems good probably gonna read it.


message 16: by Ace (new)

Ace Varkey When I read your review, I realized why I never did finish the novel. I tried three times....I guess you would say, three times too many...and I guess I would have to agree....


message 17: by Radmila (new)

Radmila Jevicki Madeline, you are the most delightful rewier, and so funny. Reminds me so much of Oscar Wilde.


message 18: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Madeline, I find it absolutely hysterical that you removed my comment regarding your review of this book because 1) I didn't agree with your review. 2) Because I know, and you know, that you have little to no knowledge of this period in American history. 3) Because when you told me to Go fuck myself, I found it funny, in which case you deleted your comment and my response. And no, I didn't flinch. 4) I thought you have more guts than that. But in the end, you're simply another bloviating blowhard who can only accept praise and adoration.

Again, Madeline, thanks for the laugh.


Madeline Actually I deleted my initial comment and your response because I realized I was being an asshole. Deleting your first comment was, believe it or not, an accident. You are welcome to post it again and I won't mess with it, but I'm done engaging with you.


message 20: by misty skaggs (new)

misty skaggs I just started my adventure into the world of FOLLOWING and you are the very first reviewer I have felt inspired to engage with. Having read several of the books you reviewed and being very much of a like mind regarding your observations l was inspired to start sharing my own opinions and also to cheer you on for your keenly insightful observations. And let's face it we all like people who are like minded. It reinforces our high opinions of our own good judgment.


Madeline I disagree - I don't want my "high opinions of my own good judgement" to be reinforced by anyone. First because I don't have high opinions of my judgement. I constantly second-guess my reviews and mostly react to things like a hysterical child. It's nice to have people around you telling you how great you are, but it's boring to never be challenged. I always like debating and defending my opinions of a book.

Unless of course, the commenter opens by attacking me and telling me I'm an idiot. Them's fightin' words.


Madeline If I see another comment from you telling me to calm down or be nice, I will block you. And then you won't have to see my rude reviews or rude comments, and we'll both be happy.


Madeline ...you realize you're still following my reviews, right? Might want to fix that.


message 24: by dj (new)

dj why


message 25: by Nolan (new)

Nolan awesome, i'm with misty skaggs. my first time reading comments & it's been good. would like to read those deleted. still following you both.


message 26: by Cindy (last edited May 15, 2015 02:04PM) (new)

Cindy Madeline wrote: "Actually I deleted my initial comment and your response because I realized I was being an asshole. Deleting your first comment was, believe it or not, an accident. You are welcome to post it again ..."

Madeline, I could have sworn I unfollowed this discussion and you as well. I'll be certain to correct that after this comment.

My earlier remarks about your review of this book, the one you deleted, was based primarily on your lack of understanding and appreciation for cultural mores and that period in American history. No need for me to rewrite it here. But gee, thanks anyway.

Your arrogance and your shitty attitude not only to me, but to others, is quite unattractive. It seems that anyone who even casually disagrees with you causes you to bristle like a cat ready to attack. For me, it has nothing to do with your swearing, I could match you on that in a New York minute, have at it. But it is unfortunate that you have such a great need for acceptance.

As to your realization that you were "being an asshole", you just might want think about reflecting a little more often.


message 27: by Bails_Williams (new)

Bails_Williams the reason that Madeline is being rude is because you've shown your age and in her description it says not to friend her if you are a child 14 is an age of a child. 18 and over is what I think is adult age.


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