Michelle's Reviews > To Be Sung Underwater

To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
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Sep 02, 12

bookshelves: 2012, contemporary-fiction
Read from August 28 to September 02, 2012

1.5 stars. This book is weird. It had fantastic praise using words like beautiful, magical, gorgeous, smart. And I guess the writing is technically nice but it’s weird somehow. I kept looking on the back cover to check if the author was British. For example, within a couple pages two separate people were described as “peevish.” Not that this word is overtly British, it’s just that the way Malcolm and Judith (and the other characters) speak is quite formal, oftentimes condescending (imagine a self-important professor as portrayed on Saturday Night Live) especially for people living in Southern California (and Nebraska!), especially for people in the movie industry. Another choice line (Malcolm to Judith): “you’re still the fetchingest creature I’ve ever laid eyes on, and I love you madly.” Now part of this is Malcolm’s affectation but he is far from the only person who speaks like this. There are Nebraska farmers with barely a high school education and they also use words like fetching and peevish and piggish. Even their teenage daughter sounds like an old British man.

So Judith is a film editor married to a banker and living in LA. She thinks back to one summer where she lived with her Dad in Nebraska and fell in love with a simple guy named Willy. Memories and pondering ensue. It took me a long time to get into this, in fact I almost stopped reading altogether many times. The middle was stronger/more interesting. Though Judith sucks as a character her (teenage) relationship with her father is sweet. I was somewhat drawn along toward the end as I wanted to see what happened to/with Willy. The fact I did see this all the way through elevates it to 2 stars from 1. But for whatever reason I just did not “get” this book, nor its accolades.
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