Lisa Grabenstetter's Reviews > The Town That Forgot How to Breathe

The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey
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's review
Sep 30, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: owned
Read from September 23 to 30, 2011

Kenneth J. Harvey dislikes modern things, like electricity and baseball caps and the enlightenment and women leaving loveless marriages they're unhappy in. He wrote a book that is basically a screed against these things. So impassioned is he that he barely pauses in his preaching to develop character personalities or explain why the army has brought enormous machinery to a tiny fishing village or what exactly they're doing with it. What budget funded that project? Disaster relief?

The book has its moments. I like nautical lore and folksongs, and only wish that more had actually been written out. Some of the characters were well developed and likeable, Ms. Larecy and Tom Quiltey and Doc Thompson, but the Blackwood family (Joseph, Kim, and Robin anyway) read like the R. A. Salvatore characters in FaeryTale-- unbelievable. Occasionally Harvey forgets himself and writes a passage that's beautiful just for what it is--the scenery, the imagery, the actions supplying subtle character development (Doug Blackwood most notably, especially in the sequence where he's carving the toy whale. Actually found myself sinking into the book then. Or Thompson in his interactions with his cat Agatha.) I don't regret reading this book, I just wish more of it had been like that. Less stress on an overarching plot, a "message", and more focus on people in a dying fishing villiage trying to hold their lives together. That's really where the book shines.

If you're the sort of reader that can ignore an author's hammered-in message, you'll probably engage with this book more than I did. Despite the implications in the cover blurb, this really isn't "gothic" or "horror" or anything like Lovecraft. It's more like a smalltown pastiche with ghosts thrown in.
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Reading Progress

09/23/2011 page 1
0.0% "I'm giving this book another shot, since Evan liked it and right now I'm just looking for some horror that actually reads like horror. Unlike most of Poe's Children."
09/24/2011 page 75
16.0% "Joseph is such a creep. "Now, Claudia possessed a Victorian beauty, a seemingly placid femininity, that gouged at Joseph's heart. She was what he believed, in his idealist and unrepentant male core, to be the consummate woman." A woman who's starving herself to death with grief, & hasn't said ten words to him. Next he watches her through the window with binoculars while his young daughter sleeps. What a charmer."

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

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Paul You saved me time in writing my own review. I concur with everything you've written!

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