Charity's Reviews > Ohio

Ohio by Stephen Markley
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's review

it was ok

My feelings about this novel (audiobook) evolved as I listened to it.

During the first section, I found it self-indulgent and annoying; I would have quit if there hadn't been three more narrators to look forward to.

The second section was a little less annoying and the teasers about Something Bigger on the horizon and the bit-part that my alma mater played were enough to keep me listening through some of the eye-rolling stuff (male authors writing sex scenes from a woman's perspective is rarely a good (or sometimes even realistic) thing).

The third section had a lot of gore, but I liked the narrator, and it started to give a sense for where the perspectives were going to meet up, which felt promising.

But then the fourth section delivered on none of this promise. It was just too much for me: too ridiculous, too senselessly violent, too melodramatic.

Again and again, this novel reminded me of the movie Gummo, also an unflattering picture of Ohio. The Ohio I know has some trouble moving on from the feeling that its best years are behind it and that leads to some unfortunate and depressing stuff, but the stuff in this novel is just too much. People seem to have a fascination right now with authors pulling back the veil from the eccentricities and perceived effed-up-ness of the Heartland, as though that region of the country is one big carnival sideshow. The middle of the country needs more attention for sure, but this kind of thing just feels mean-spirited and one-sided. And not particularly entertaining.

For a more skillful rendering of the challenges of this general region of the country (albeit Michigan rather than Ohio), I recommend Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere or Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides. If there are good ones out there about Ohio that include the beautiful along with the ugly, please let me know.

Two stars for Ohio, though, because I finished it and because I like Stacy and Dan.

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Reading Progress

January 2, 2019 – Shelved
January 2, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
June 8, 2019 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
June 8, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read (Paperback Edition)
October 10, 2019 – Started Reading
October 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

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