Peter's Reviews > All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang
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's review
Feb 12, 2011

liked it

This was an absorbing read for me, completed in a couple of sittings. And more than anything else, I admired the prose. Maybe it's because I've been reading a lot of long cram-in-all-the-#$%ing-wonder-of-life sentence writers lately, but the spare elegantly-crafted lines came as a refreshing surprise. I really felt like I was disappearing into the text, and emerging only when each section was finished.

The story, on the other hand, seemed a touch too refined for my taste. I appreciated the subtle touch in moments, but in other moments, I yearned to know more about what was beyond the page. In an ideal version of this book, for me, we would have gotten to know Bernard just as well as Roman. Perhaps it seemed like there was less to mine there, mired as B. was in his daily solitude. But I found myself wondering how anyone could really live a life that monastic, and how he really existed on a daily basis. What did he do? How did he "suffer"? It was a shame never to see him outside of Roman's orbit.

I felt similarly about Miranda. True, she was enigmatic, and there was excitement in that initially, but once this surface layer had been pulled away, I wanted more. Who was she? Sometimes she felt just like the mysterious seductress in a bodice-ripper for poets.

I respect that these were choices made in service of writing a story mostly about Roman, but despite his many mistakes, he actually felt like the least interesting character in the book to me.

Still, I couldn't put this down. It cast a peculiar kind of spell on me, one made up of a pleasing mixture of nostalgia and regret. And I liked the idea of moving briskly along through these lives, skipping over the years of calm to get to the good stuff. If only the magnifying glass had moved away from Roman once in awhile.
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