Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's Not You, It's Me: Vol. 4

After being laid out on the couch as sick as a dog for nearly week, I've lifted my head above the fog with that strange notion of time set askew.  It feels as if I've missed more than a week of reality, and I figured that the best tonic would be to come clean on some perfectly good books that left me cold.  Once I get this out of my system I move onto gushing about other perfectly wonderful books and all will be well.

May I present: The Story of Many Dogs That Almost Broke Into Speech But Never Quite Did.  At least that's what I expected them to do.

This book was hugely popular a while back.  Oprah selected it.  I read enough unenthusiastic reviews to convince me not to read it, but then it was selected for my book club so I had to.  I got through it mostly on audio, and if I said that I cared about any of the characters, I'd be exaggerating.

However.  If you are a dog lover, a lover of the Shakespearean tragedy, if you are a Wisconsin lover or a lover of the long-winded epic, then this may be a match made in heaven.


Parts of Running the Rift were quite good.   The story of Rwanda's recent history can't fail to be compelling, making it impossible to remain emotionally detached during the climax of the plot.  It is important to tell the stories of those who are unable to tell their own—atrocities should not be left unremembered.

The problem is the nagging feeling that has followed this story for me: that those people weren't done justice in this book.  I had a hard time drumming up a connection to any of the characters...what should have been a celebration of survival and spirit, instead felt rather lifeless and mechanical, and I thought it was a pity.  Obviously my opinion is not universal, and I still think it's a story worth telling, even if the telling wasn't spectacular.


Now I thought that Rules of Civility would be a terrific romp through NYC in the Roaring 20s, and who am I to complain about that?  Snazzy style, glamorous girls, plenty of parties, and most of all...jazz.  Yes please.

Actually, I may have liked it more if I had read it instead of listening to it.  Perhaps it was the narrator's intonations that brought attention to the scads of metaphors saturating the prose.  It sounded as if it were written by someone who enjoyed sunsets and long walks on the beach and could rather do without having to actually read anything.  I'm sorry, but there it is.

Still, I love the era.  The title is great.  The premise has promise.  Sigh.


The Kitchen House: A Book Club Favorite.  It's no wonder, actually, because it seems to have been marketed directly for that purpose.  Simple writing, quick pace, tons of plot points, a gazillion-billion issues (and their sisters), and the Southern, historical setting, and Bam! Book Club Favorite!

Okay, but seriously.  If you are in the mood for a quickly moving, easy to read, page turning experience, then pick it up.  Do it.  It's what you want.  Just don't try to figure out why the Irish girl is named Lavinia, or what is benefited by the narrator switch, or if it is likely that all of these things would have happened to one person, or which issue you should care about the most...because you might get distracted and stop turning pages so quickly.  And that was the point, wasn't it? Oh, and don't forget to meet up with a group of girls and drink a glass of wine afterwards.  You've earned it.


Ahhh.  I feel so much better now.  I think that was just what the doctor ordered.  :)

13 comments:

  1. I couldn't finish The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and I was less than impressed with Rules of Civility. I consider myself in good company, now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always nice to surround yourself with likeminded readers, right? I really wanted to like Rules of Civility but it kept letting me down.

      Delete
  2. I hope you're feeling better. I understand what you mean when it feels like you lost a week of life somewhere. My sister warned me off Edgar Sawtelle, so I'm happy I didn't read it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After A Thousand Acres and Edgar Sawtelle, I'm thinking that I'm just not cut out for the Shakespeare retelling. It's been a journey to be able to appreciate Shakespeare himself, so trying to like the retellings is pushing it. Edgar Sawtelle was okaaayyyyy, but certainly not worth the time it took.

      Delete
  3. I experienced the exact same thing when I was sick. Good books, ones with lots of hype just didn't work for me. No energy to get through them but no interest. Period.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I finally clued in and read something I'd really been wanting to read that was quick to get through (Song of Achilles) and I think it helped pull me out of that. I definitely lack patience when I'm sick.

      Delete
  4. Hi Melody,
    I was lukewarm in my reception of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I had heard some good things about it but, like you, only read it when it was picked for my book club a few years ago. I think I liked the dogs more than the humans in this book. :-)
    -Jay

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, like I said...I kept wanting them to talk. That probably means I also liked them more than I liked the humans! My book club still hasn't met to discuss it. I think the others are having a hard time finishing it.

      Delete
  5. I was really interested in Rules of Civility, but your description has just put me off. I think you may have saved me 15$. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure that if I didn't care so much about the writing I would have liked it more...so maybe if I wasn't in a persnickety mood then it would've worked better? I don't know. I was bummed.

      Delete
  6. Rules of Civility is on my list (I won it through a giveaway). I'm excited to read it, but I've noted your warning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it (truly, I do!) because it's no fun to be excited about a book and be let down! Sometimes if your expectations are tempered it's easier to appreciate though, so hopefully that's what I've done for you. :)

      Delete
  7. I liked Edgar Sawtelle and was really disappointed in The Kitchen House. I agreed with your comments. It felt like a "book club" book, designed not to be too difficult (even though it's about slavery!). For some reason it's the most-searched book review on my blog. Bleh.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear what you have to say, leave a comment!

There was an error in this gadget