Lucy's Reviews > The Last Time They Met

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
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May 20, 2010

did not like it
Read in May, 2010


This had a solid spot on my mediocre-books-I'll-never-remember shelf until I read the last two pages where an appallingly bad ending forced me to violently throw it into the books-so-bad-they-make-me-angry trash.**

While still fuming about one of the lamest and most manipulative endings ever written, I had to remind myself that I believe there is a purpose to occasionally reading a bad book. As a reading hobbyist, my main motivation to read is for joy. For the euphoria that comes when I immerse myself in a really spectacular story, essay, fable or parable for a few hours or days and come away a better informed, more empathic person for reading it.

In order to recognize the good stuff, I believe you have to have some experience with the bad. It's the law of opposition for literature. Now, I'm not advocating anyone seek out the tawdry or the trashy. I'm not even sure that kind of stuff counts as literature. But, the more I read, the more comfortable I am with my opinions. If I say or write, "That was incredible." or, "Meh." or even "I hated it!" I'm using all the books I've read before as a sort of gauge. Of course, preference about style, genre or prose is so subjective that it would be impossible to universally call anything "Good" or "Bad" but throughout your own experience as a reader, your own tastes become clear.

This, an attempt to dramatize one of life's great questions - what if? - is bad, in my opinion, because it seems Anita Shreve couldn't pass up a chance to write a book full of gimmicks over one whose plot could stand on its own two feet. From it's reverse chronology format to it's pointless foreshadowing of things that never happened, The Last Time They Met only serves to remind me that there are better books out there.

** no books were actually harmed in the writing of this review
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