missy jean's Reviews > The Feast of Love

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
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Aug 22, 2008

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bookshelves: fiction
Read in August, 2008

Charles Baxter's prose is lyrical and lovely in Feast of Love, and I felt like I learned a lot about about voice and POV as I read, but... well, I suppose it's just not the kind of book that really speaks to me. A whole book about love affairs and sex (unrealistic sex at that)? What about everything else in these characters' lives? And philosophically: Isn't there just MORE to life, more that deserves our attention? Maybe some people would argue that there isn't --after all, there's an entire GENRE built on romance-- but perhaps it's just an issue of personal taste. For me, Feast of Love was so limited in scope that although love flowed out of its pages, I just couldn't bring myself to love it back.

A few days later: Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to sort through my reactions to book, and I think my lukewarm reaction to Feast of Love probably stems from this: I think Charles Baxter's writing is AMAZING, and I didn't think the subject matter of this book was worthy of his writing. Of course LOVE is worthy of anyone's attention --write about love all day long, sing its praises!-- but this book was so hedonistic, a story of idealized sex followed by characters abruptly giving up on each other. I love to reach stories that really tackle committed love in all its thorniness and trickiness, but Feast of Love's plotline reminded me of a common romance novel...and Charles Baxter, you are clearly better than that.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Gili I also felt like Baxter was able to relate to some characters and speak from their pov better than others. Did you feel that? At times the teenagers struck me as cartoonish. I never felt completely connected or invested to any one character.

missy jean I know what you mean, Gili. Interestingly, I felt like one of the strongest voices in the book was Diana's, and I was impressed that Baxter could get into this woman's head so convincingly. But I agree that Chloe's voice was not very convincing. I thought that her final chapter was one of the weakest points of the entire book, so the end was kind of a let-down for me because of that.

Gili There's something so accessible about Baxter's writing (maybe it's the Midwest thing). Sometimes I feel like I can be very critical of his writing because he seems like a friend or someone who's just retelling an anecdote, but doing it well. He doesn't seem to show off the way some authors do. He sticks to the basics, which I like, and it also feels like an opening. Does that make sense?

missy jean Makes perfect sense. See my modified review :)

Gili I like your revised review, but the subject matter was not my hang-up with his book. I love a good musing on love. I think you're right: he doesn't complicate things. That's what bugs me. So much of the book seems simplified and diluted. People are not this simple. I don't know enough about Baxter to say how I feel about his writing in general.

I would say: check out Deborah Eisenberg (the great!) for someone who knows how to create complicated, honest characters who struggle with love.

missy jean Deborah Eisenberg has been on my to-read list for a while. Thanks for the recommendation; I'll check her out!

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