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Seaview by Toby Olson
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's review
Feb 06, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: novels
Read in February, 2010

The precision of Olson's descriptions and details are incredible, and reminded me of Don DeLillo. The minutest motions of a single stroke in a game of golf can go on for sentences, which might sound boring but somehow generates a remarkable degree of tension and momentum. In fact, it's the passages that don't describe something concrete when the writing becomes a bit dull -- long, abstract catalogues of what characters think or feel are rendered from such a distance that there is no emotion in the emotions, so nothing seems at stake. Especially when the novel as a whole puts so much at stake personally, historically, physically, politically, and otherwise. The story begs, on one hand, to be read symbolically as it brings together the subtle violences of golf and real estate development with the brutality of colonizing of the United States. But what again reminded me of DeLillo was how well Olson keeps the novel from being pure symbol -- the concreteness and precision of those descriptions kept any metaphorical speculations grounded in a tangible world, making them all the more complex and provocative.
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