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Right as Rain

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message 1: by Edan (new)

Edan | 39 comments Okay, everyone, today begins our discussion of Right as Rain. I'm only about 50 pages in, and I'm worried. Cliches abound! I'm sure the story will pick up as the stories connect and collide with one another; the repetition of the western in all three narrative threads, at this point, feels a little obvious...

Hey, Mike, you're the English teacher. Start us off right.

message 2: by Kimley (new)

Kimley Edan, stick with it if you can. The last quarter of the book was the better part in my opinion where, as you say, the stories connect and collide and also he lets up with all the pop cultural references and gets a bit grittier.

message 3: by Cory (last edited Feb 16, 2008 10:26PM) (new)

Cory | 12 comments Edan, I'm concerned about the cliches as well, but it's led me to add one to my nascent list, Garfin's Rules of Thumb. "#2: If a book title contains or consists entirely of a cliche, lower expectations for the language and situations inside and expect more of the same." (In case you're wondering, #1 is: If a supposed comedy movie preview shows a character falling down as a laugh catalyst - whether tripping, being pushed, or falling off of a chair - and said character is not played by either Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin, the movie will be awful.)

What really has me confused, though, is all of the product placement going on already in the first 20 pages. From page 16 to 18 alone we read about an Acura, a Caprice, a Leatherman, the Burlington Coat Factory, Tribe Called Quest, a Pontiac Astra, and a Chevy Vega.

Now, I'm all for specificity, and know he's setting the scene, but something seems strange (pun intended) about all of this in such a short span of pages. I admit to having a personal bias against the abuse of pop-cultural references in fiction, but this amount seems a bit absurd. For instance, on page 9, after listing several tools by name, Pelecanos writes: "When he could, Strange always bought Craftsman - the tools were guaranteed for life, and he tended to be hard on his equipment." I mean, come on, they must have paid him to write that.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

message 4: by Kimley (new)

Kimley Donald, how does this book compare to other Pelecanos books - in terms of which are your favorites? This book didn't leave me all that inclined to pick up any of his other books unless I thought they might be better.

Overall the book was a fun, fast read but had a lot of problems and was hard to take too seriously - even as genre. I love pop cultural references but felt that Pelecanos was inundating his characters with music/books etc. that Pelecanos likes himself rather than something to further define the character. It seemed to me to further define Pelecanos - certainly I have no idea if this is true, just the impression I got. But in the end, I kept wondering if he wanted a mild-mannered middle-class white girl from Manhattan (that would be me) to feel like she would enjoy hanging out with his D.C. street tough lead. A little Morricone and some Parliament is alright by me!

message 5: by Edan (new)

Edan | 39 comments The pop culture references bother me too, Cory, and I think because rather than creating a world, they're in the place of characterization. I've had students at Iowa do this in their creative writing exercises, where a girl walks into a party in an "Abercrombie Tee", which is meant to signify a whole list of things. It's shorthand for character--but it creates types.

message 6: by Edan (new)

Edan | 39 comments I'm giving up on Right as Rain; it's just not compelling to me, and I have many books I want to read...

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