Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Outside Valentine

Outside Valentine by Liza Ward
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Jan 10, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: owned-and-still-own, defenestrated
Read in November, 2008

Liza Ward, Outside Valentine (Henry Holt, 2004)

Outside Valentine is pretty much tailor-made for me. I'm a sucker for the subject matter (three stories paralleling the killing spree of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate), the book was released by a major press but dropped off the radar after getting almost no publicity at all, and a whole lot of critics liked it a whole lot. And yet I've spent the last couple of years trying to get myself to like it and failing miserably. It's not that the book is badly-written, but there's not a single character in here, not even Caril Ann Fugate, who makes me care what's going to happen here, and the only plot point with any suspense surrounding it at all is the contents of the safe-deposit box in the 1991 story. And even that wasn't enough to keep me going past the halfway point. There are a slew of well-drawn characters here who are simply wandering aimlessly through their settings. (And even Terence Malick was capable of making Starkweather and Fugate wander aimlessly through Badlands in a compelling manner.) November is always them month where I go through and prune the reading list of stuff I simply can't bear to read any longer. I axed five books this year, which is a new high for me. Of all of them, Outside Valentine is the one I most regret, but there's way too much reading to do for me to try and force myself to finish this one. (zero)

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