karen's Reviews > The School on Heart's Content Road

The School on Heart's Content Road by Carolyn Chute
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's review
Aug 13, 2015

it was ok
Read from May 23 to 28, 2011

donald harington has ruined so many books for me simply by being a better writer than other writers. so when i read something like this, i am forced to obsess over the many ways this could have been better if his gentle hands were still with us...

occasionally, when i was reading this one, i was thinking of when angels rest, which is the closest harington ever came to writing a "war novel." in that one, WWII is brought close to home as the children of stay more, already engaging in "war games" in their various peer groups, come into contact with actual soldiers as their town becomes occupied and sides are drawn. harington touches upon universal truths and horrifying realities with the deft touch for which he is known, and that books sings. and then has a bit of a rough ending.

there is none of that deft touch at all in this book.

some of it reads as though it was actually written by someone living in a cult - separated from the rest of humanity with only a vague understanding of the world outside, like a memory of some sitcom-from-the-80's stock footage of a gay male character from which to try to sensitively portray a gentleman that way inclined. really really bad. and that was only one millisecond of this book.

first of all - the layout. cutesie little icons denote from which perspective each portion of the book will be shown; little irritating bursts of narrative voiced by a crow, a television set, plutonians (um, why?),a six-year-old preoccupied with her own sex appeal, (yuk. but she is occasionally entertaining. but, yes, yuk), etc. i love novels in which there is a scattershot voice, but too much of this was just whimsy for the sake of whimsy.

the rest of it is a soapbox jamboree - a blend of extreme left wing and extreme right wing philosophy coming together when the captain of a free maine militia befriends the head of a commune and hijinks arise.

but there is an agenda here, and i am just not on board. not because i am anti- or pro- anything these characters stand for, but because loud speeches and political proselytizing are grating to me when it sneaks into my littrature. or my subway car.

if you're gonna do it, do it gracefully, don't shriek it at me from cartoony characters with little map icons.

it's just some boring polygamous hippies surrounding a supposedly charismatic leader who keeps turning the other cheek while his flock nervously looks around at the changes a-comin'. it tries to tackle too many of society's perceived ills at once and just becomes a mess of bitter and unsubtle metaphor.

and as far as maine secession, go ahead and secede - i have read a bunch of stephen king and y'all are creepy. plus, i know jasmine...

(ahhhhh don't shoot!!!)

no, i am still going to read the beans of egypt, maine, because that is the one jessica actually suggested to me in RA group. but this one i did not like. i have higher hopes for those beans.
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Greg (new)

Greg Did the crow have anything interesting to say in the book?

karen no! if nick cave or donald harington had written it, it would have been a great crow. but it was just gimmicky and it made me cross.

message 3: by Greg (new)

Greg It would make anyone cross to have to read the thoughts of a boring crow.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

A boring crow? That is depressing.

message 5: by karen (last edited Jun 01, 2011 03:31PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

karen that's just it - it isn't a disney-time crow POV, some sort of om narr addresses the crow at intervals indicated by the crow icon and what follows will be a little something like:

you, crow of the east egypt branch of the tribe, watch the green-and-white truck stop at a yellow house next to a green-door church.

zzzzz. so the crow doesn't even get to say anything, it is just there, being observed and situated above the action. i think she thought that it would be cute.

message 6: by Greg (new)

Greg That crow sounds suck!

message 7: by karen (last edited Jun 01, 2011 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

karen hahaahah he is suck!! i thought the book was suck, too!

karen KAW

message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael Funny, but honestly, I was sitting here early this morning and the crows out here were going NUTS. Maybe they were hung over from spending so much time last night at the crow bar! I'm sorry Karen. It's in me just waiting for the moment. You have it too, you're just in denial.

karen ugh. you are soooooo bad!

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Kaw...ect

message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael I could go on and on you know

karen no! don't you have birthday presents to wrap for me or something?

message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael Hell no.

karen is it because the pony won't stand still?

message 16: by Lavijae (new)

Lavijae did the crow having anything to do it the book

message 17: by Tuck (new)

Tuck i guess we are just going to have to be away from each other for while, cuz giving chute (genius) two stars has made me physically sick

karen i'm so sorry

message 19: by Tuck (new)

Tuck its ok chica, im alwasy a bit hyperbolic (stress on the bollock part) ;) wink

karen ha! well, this is the only one i have read, so far. i'm willing to try another one. but compared to donald harington, everyone pales...

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