Discussion Forums - Hidden Gems Hidden Gems

Topic: The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison (minispoilers)

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
L. G. (L)
Subject: The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison (minispoilers)
Date Posted: 3/25/2008 2:22 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
Back To Top

Kathryn Harrison has a gift for creating exceptionally beautiful prose.  After reading her memoir, The Kiss, I was compelled to look in to her fiction, though I don't normally like works of fiction.  This was a most bizarre book!  I wanted to like it - I really did.  But I am left feeling somewhat unsettled and a bit disappointed, despite the glorious writing.

The association and relationship between May and Alice is handled beautifully.  I loved May as a character, but felt there were far too many periphery characters which really didn't add to the story (Eleanor, and Suzanne, for example).  I would have like to have seen the lives of other Chinese nationals explored a bit more (Brother and the other Brother, and possibly May's Grandmother, for example.)

I despise gratuitous sex, and Alice's encounters were just that - gratuitous.  The only sex scene that I felt was germane to the story was May's encounters with her first husband.  The scene describing May and Suzanne and Suzanne's virginity was simply absurd.  Why the author thought it added something to the story, I will never know.

I won't reveal the ending, but suffice it to say, it left me cold.  What a cheap way to end what could have been a glorious book. :p

I will try another of her works, simply because I love the way she writes.  However, I cannot recommend this book, as it is written.  It held so much promise and simply fell flat.

 

Date Posted: 3/25/2008 2:26 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,452
Back To Top

LG, I picked this one as it was highly recommended.  I got through about 40 pages before I gave up.  I found the looks into the past (the binding scene is so vivid and horrifying!) very well written.  But, I found the scenes in the present to be jumbled.  I never got them off the train.  I just couldn't make sense of the different characters who didn't seem to have any reason to be included in the story.

 

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 3/25/2008 4:15 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
Back To Top

Yes, the train scene was somewhat bogged down.  It really had little bearing on the story, except for one incident.  The book did pick up a bit from there, but it lacked a lot in terms of pure entertainment value.