when one spends a great deal of time with creative sorts, one finds oneself collecting certain phrases; phrases that sound like compliments but are not exactly lies if a compliment is not deserved. There's is the quintessential "What an interesting painting!" but that's old hat and too easily seen through. One moves on to such words as "spectacular" (after all, a train wreck IS a spectacle) and "I am so impressed that you got that published!"
On the back of this book, as one of the blurbs, there is a masterpiece of the genre I speak of. "An extraordinary tale, and Simon Winchester could not have told it better"
This is accurate. Sadly, there are many other folks who COULD have told it better.
This is a maddeningly awful retelling of Beaowulf, perfectly epitomized by the depiction of Grendal's mother as a perky-boobed blond lady whose only non-human trait is that her feet and legs are just naturally formed like tall highheels.
It's really just stupid, but there's a lot more cleavage than the original, which seems to be what they were banking on.
My neighbor did some spray painting and the smell was something else. I grabbed a coat and left. But it was 11 pm, I live in a small town, and I hadn't brought any entertainment, so I stopped by the little free library and picked up this book, which seemed like the best bet. I think I made the wrong choice.
This book is sincerely awful. If it's supposed to be a mystery, it is lacking both suspense and resolution. If it's supposed to be a small town drama, it's missing any sort of appealing characters. If it's supposed to be a silly, relaxing read, there's a lot of (truly random) death. I cannot for the life of me think who the target audience could possibly be- all I know is that it isn't me.
NOTE: this book takes less time to read than my workshop takes to air out, and I read the whole thing, came home disappointed, and was yet more disappointed to discover that the place still smelled of paint
Most of the stories are three star stories. There's a smattering of 2 stars, and a smattering of four stars, and even a few five and ones. Averages out to a solid three. I am subtracting a whole star though, because the illustrations that are supposed to be the thread tying this whole thing together are pretty terrible. Not even bad enough to be interesting, just.... really and truly and utterly missable. No one will remember these drawings after the book is closed
I'm not a huge fan of mysteries, but I like a good straightforward read on occasion, and this was fitting the bill nicely until we got to the denouement. Are we allowed to do spoilers here? I'm about to do one. Stop reading if you don't want to see it. But seriously, am I to believe that there's a gem shop in Thailand producing high quality, well cut rubies, and that they cannot find buyers except by sneaking the stones in by circus? Even if one takes into account full import duties, the significantly lower price that a stone without provenance fetches means they're still losing out. I was expecting some sort of explanation for WHY anyone would be dealing in stones this way, and turned the page to find.... the book was over. Am I being pedantic? Maybe. But I feel like this mystery is a bigger one than the one solved in the book, and I'm disappointed.
The characters are well written. The small stories are great. But the big story: the one where one niave but well meaning white lady somehow "saves" a whole town full of black women- that one is the sort of wishful thinking that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
I was not at all surprised, upon finishing the book, to read a note from the author that she had been raised by a black maid, and that she feels a lot of guilt there. This whole book was about her guilt, more than it was about anything else.
I've had this book traveling around on my shelves for over a decade (my notes say that I picked it up at the Newton dump when taking the recycling down for my old fabrication job). It took me this long to figure out how to read it.
I like to give short stories their proper due- to read one in a sitting, and let it sit for a bit before reading the next. These stories, though are SO short- between one and four pages, they take no more than a few minutes to read, and yet each still deserves the proper time to think about it. I finally got it.
This book is the best bathroom reading I have ever had. It's improved my days for several months, one or two stories a day. I will go back to reading dumb comics in the bathroom, now that I've finished it, but I will miss the brief moments of beauty that this book imparted on my day.
As always with an anthology, some stories grabbed me more than others, but the average is pretty high, here.
You know those ads that spend 7/8 of their airtime convincing you that something you never thought was an issue is actually your biggest problem, and 1/8 of their airtime telling you that their product will fix it? This is the book form of that.It's just as annoying, but takes more than three minutes to sit through.
-confession- this review is based on only the first couple chapters, as staring at a white wall is both more interesting, and more likely to engender insights and intellectual breakthroughs, and I opted to do that rather than keep reading.