Alison's Reviews > Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter

Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter by Michael J.  White
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's review
Mar 06, 2010

did not like it
Read from March 01 to 06, 2010

I don't even know where to begin. It was a very uneven book--written in a very flashy way, at times to the point of distraction, where I was having to read and reread sentences to find the meaning in all of the linguistic acrobatics. For the first half of the book (before the bad thing happens) I found myself dreading reading--it was just so slow as George described moving to a new town, falling in love with a girl at his high school, spending time with the girl's family, et cetera. Then once the bad thing happened, things started to pick up, as though the author finally understood his characters to some degree. That said, it was just a very strange story. The characters were not likable, but I really think that's just because we never fully understand them. We get pages and pages and pages of what they're DOING, but it never really adds up to anything tangible in terms of character. To me it seemed like a short story that had been lengthened. In a short story I feel like there's a lot more room for ambiguity, for things truly NOT changing, as though we're just taking a quick peek into some lives. But in a novel, I expect there to be some deeper meaning, a reward for lending so much time to these characters. I just found it so annoying that George remained in love with Emily even into later adulthood (he's telling the story at close to the age of thirty and still pines for her). It didn't make sense to me that he wouldn't mature enough to realize that love is so much more than what he had with Emily in high school, that a person is allowed to want something in return. Deeply unsatisfying. Don't know what to make of it all--wish I could discuss it with someone!
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Angie McCullagh I agree that the "linguistic acrobatics" - great term - were distracting. And I think both Emily and Katie were very much female characters as written by a male. To me they didn't act at all like girls and women I know. That said, I did really like George after a while and enjoyed the book as a whole. Better than a few of the Dave Eggers books I've read. It's clear that the author is a smart guy with a lot of talent. Maybe he'll channel it a little more succinctly next time.

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