Susan's Reviews > The Red House

The Red House by Mark Haddon
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May 03, 12

bookshelves: arc-edition
Read from April 22 to May 03, 2012 — I own a copy

Although this book by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time got off to a slow start for me, in the end I found that I liked it very much.

The writing at first seemed somewhat choppy to me, and I didn't like that both present and past tense was used while writing about the same time frame. I didn't like being broadsided by the occasional snippet of cruelty. There were too many paragraphs filled with fragmented sentences, things that seemed relative perhaps to the whole world but not connected to the story. As an example:

Marja, Helmand. The sniper far back enough from the window to stop sun flaring on the rifle sight. Crack and kickback. A marine stumbles under the weight of his red buttonhole. Dawn light on wild horses in the Khentii Mountains. Huddersfield, brown sugar bubbling in a tarnished spoon. Turtles drown in oil.

Huh? I think these paragraphs are supposed to give me a sense of the wider world, the world beyond this dysfunctional family on vacation and their relatively petty problems. But initially, they just made me think, “Hey, this ain't Grapes of Wrath and Haddon ain't Steinbeck.”

And then I got used to them and enjoyed them. I liked every single one of these flawed characters trying to find sense in their lives. I even liked the immensely unlikeable Melissa. Anyone who has ever had any sort of human relationship, which pretty much includes all of us, will find familiarity in this lovely story.

I was given an advance reader's copy of the book, and the quote may have changed in the published edition.
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