Neil's Reviews > You Lost Me There

You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin
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Dec 30, 2011

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Read from December 18 to 31, 2011

As is the case for so many individual people, this book's strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. I enjoyed that although the book starts out with a main character who is an Alzheimer's researcher and who is forced to face the considerable gaps between his own memories and those of his dead wife, the novel never lets itself be reduced to--or even focused on--memory. Instead, it ranges wildly across creativity in Hollywood, off-off-Broadway, in the kitchen, in poems; swimming; life in Maine; addiction; genealogy; and much more. No person is interested in just one thing and this book follows its protagonist's varied interests in any number of directions, and in relationships with a dozen characters of all ages. It's certainly not predictable.

And yet the variety and lack of focus, apart from the main character in all his many facets, meant for me that it didn't add up to much. In its end, the book returns to the protagonist's relationship with his wife and suggests that he's ready to approach it differently, but I didn't understand how. And relationships that had been so important early in the novel are nearly absent at the end, leaving conversations with a late-comer to the story who is not nearly as interesting.

In a conversation with a Hollywood agent about a script the protagonist's wife had started before she died, one character says, "I thought it was true to life." And the agent replies, "[T]rue to life doesn't put people in theaters....I'm not saying there's no gold in the premise. Look, I like the local color....End of the day, though, what we lack fundamentally is [the writer's] vision. If she were alive, she'd write forty more drafts before she was satisfied. You and me, this isn't what we do. I wouldn't even know where to start." _You Lost Me There_ doesn't need that much revision, but its admirable breath also makes very difficult any effort to even begin to make sense of it.
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