Julie's Reviews > Spoonbenders

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
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bookshelves: book-club

I started this multi-generational account of a family of performing “mystics” and thought. . . ooooh, this is going to be fun.

Daryl Gregory's writing style and tone seemed, initially, similar both to Michael Chabon's and Jeffrey Eugenides's (two of my favorite living writers) and I waited patiently for those staggering observations, gut punches and deep character studies to emerge.

They never did.

This is one of the “safest” books I've ever read. If it were a man, I'd say he was a eunuch.

Writers, like everyone else, have bills to pay, and I wondered (for 399 pages) if this man's motivations were mortgage driven. It's obvious to me that Mr. Gregory is crossing his fingers that someone in Hollywood will want to make him an offer on this story. Almost every scene cries out, “Adapts easily to the screen!”

The writer seems like a nice guy, and every sentence was perfectly in place, but this bland, underdeveloped and safe novel had no bite and no balls for me.
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Reading Progress

February 11, 2018 – Started Reading
February 11, 2018 – Shelved
February 22, 2018 – Shelved as: book-club
February 22, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Can’t wait to read what you think of this one, Julie!


message 2: by Christine (new)

Christine Boyer Is it his first novel?


Julie Good question. I just checked. It looks like this is at least his third published novel, and he has an award winning novella as well.


message 4: by Joe (last edited Feb 23, 2018 10:19AM) (new) - added it

Joe Valdez Wonderful review, Julie. I treasure your insights, especially with books we both want to read. Sounds like if this novel were music it would be Celine Dion. I put it on my reading docket expecting Dolly Parton. That is not good.


message 5: by Susanne (new)

Susanne  Strong Fabulous, honest review my friend! Sounds like a book I will pass on, a book with no b&lls is not for me.


Julie Jennifer, in a word: vanilla.


Julie Joe,
Such an interesting observation. I read an interview once, in which Dolly Parton claimed that once Whitney Houston did a remake of her I Will Always Love You, she refused to perform it again, thinking that she couldn't top that performance.
I remember thinking. . . why? Dolly's version has gasps of raw emotion and that natural break in her voice that gets you right in your throat.
Who cares about a bunch of perfectly punctuated, well-formed sentences that don't provoke even the simplest thinks or feels?? I want the meat on the bone, and I want the marrow, too.


Julie Susanne,
I can not complain about the writing nor the organization of plot here, but I have little tolerance in my 40s for reading 400 pages of a predictable story that takes me nowhere.
You know what I mean?


message 9: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Valdez Julie wrote: "Who cares about a bunch of perfectly punctuated, well-formed sentences that don't provoke even the simplest thinks or feels?? I want the meat on the bone, and I want the marrow, too."

What a way you have bringing my batty comments around and applying it to the book you read, Julie. Whitney Houston was a talented vocalist whose soft pop taste brings to mind your experience reading this novel. I agree with Susanne; I like art with some balls to it.


Annet Different view with some balls here ;-): I liked this one. Quirky, entertaining, out of the box, interesting for me. Enjoyed it all the way. Opinions differ and they better... to keep the discussions interesting here... My 2 cents.


Julie Hi Annet! Good to hear from you. I agree; I like honesty, whether it supports my opinions or opposes them.


Annet Absolutely. So we're aligned :-), and we agree to disagree.
Great weekend!


message 13: by Robin (new)

Robin No bite? No ballz? No way!

PS I am very impressed you typed this all out, one-handed. Bravo, friend.


Julie Thanks, sweet friend. “Lefty” strikes again. I started Stephen King’s Misery today, because I need to read about someone who feels more miserable than I do right now.


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Julie, I am now sheepishly worried that I may be reading lots of books with no balls. And enjoying them. 😂 I haven’t read this one, though! You never fail to entertain me!

By the way, Big Red came in the mail yesterday!


Julie Big Red: Yea! Please report back!


Julie P.S. Jennifer,
I like books with balls, but plenty of readers do fine without them. And now this has me thinking of the "schweddy ball" skit from SNL. Leave it to me to "go there!"


message 18: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Robinson Thanks for the honesty, Julie. I'd put this on my list, but I really dislike "safe" books. My word for them is "packaged."


message 19: by Arah-Lynda (new)

Arah-Lynda No bite or balls eh? Well put.


message 20: by Crumb (new)

Crumb Terrific review.. I appreciate your honesty. I don't like "safe" books. I like books with a "bite".


Julie Good morning, Betsy!
If I had thought less of Daryl Gregory's writing abilities, I wouldn't have bothered to desire more, but I can't stand it when a writer refuses to roll up his/her sleeves and get dirty.


Julie Arah-Lynda,
After reading a few of your excellent reviews of Mr. King's work, I am sensing that you also like your reads to have a little more bite.


Julie Hi Crumb!
It's just so frustrating to me when an artist dreams up an imaginative premise such as this one, but doesn't allow it to achieve its full potential. I felt similarly with Jaws.


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