jill's Reviews > The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen
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Nov 22, 09

bookshelves: found-on-a-plane
Read in November, 2009

This took me longer to get through than I would have expected. Interesting for the first hundred pages or so, then a steady alternation between engaging and ridiculously boring for the remaining 280. The boring never kept up quite long enough for me to give up on the book, but it never stayed away long enough either. Still, the end wasn't bad, so at least it started and ended strong. The characterizations, especially of Jesse James and Bob Ford, were well done. There was a lot of detail, some of which was interesting, but enough was superfluous that I think a nice heavy editing session would have been an enormous improvement.

Also, Hansen is fond of slightly off-kilter metaphors that sometimes worked but just as often brought me up short. I don't have the book handy for good examples, but, for instance, at one point someone washes his hands like "silverware." I don't really know what image of hand washing that's supposed to conjure up. And another time someone's face is lined like "geography," which I suppose is just an attempt at a more interesting version of a face like a map, but I think it's a little too abstract.
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