Monday, July 07, 2008

Three Duds in a Row

First up, Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I was actually excited to read this story because it was recommended by dozens of patrons at the library. When a book can't stay on the shelf for many months, it has to be good, right? I was so disappointed. One person makes a bad choice which affects everyone else in the story. Such a concept is within the realm of reality. It happens all the time. In this story that one bad choice leads everyone else in the story to also make bad choices. And were not talking little bad choices, but rather really, really bad choices.

The story starts with an interesting concept. A doctor delivers his own twins. His son comes out perfectly healthy, but his daughter has Downs Syndrome. Rather than deal with a baby with Downs Syndrome, he tells his wife that the second twin has died. He then pawns off his daughter to the nurse that assisted with instructions to deliver her at an institution. One thing follows another and the nurse ends up adopting the baby girl as her own and leaving town. What could have turned into a story with some kind of redemption or hope turns into a story of depression and horror. Adultery, alcoholism, drugs...... I couldn't finish it and it went back to the library.

Next up was Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. I really should have known better. I liked the idea of basing a romance around recipes and cooking. But the book is entirely about sex, adultery, etc. Nothing wholesome here, so back to the library (I only got to the third chapter when I gave up on it).

You would assume a classic like a Light in August by William Faulkner would be safe to read. Even though his characters also make bad choices there is the idea of hope and redemption (I read up on it at Wikipedia before starting the novel). Perhaps it was the writing style (partially stream of consciousness). I became thoroughly confused with the story line of Joe Christmas. I couldn't quite figure out what was going on in the story. Faulkner gives you just enough details to understand what is going on without going into gory details like so many modern writers. Even so, Christmas is a really, really bad guy and Faulkner leaves a lot up to your imagination. The character moves from one scene to the next and I couldn't figure out why. I didn't like reading about him when other parts of the story interested me more.

Anyway, I became frustrated and it goes back to the library.


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