Death in Summer and The Love of a Good Woman: I Expected More

So two books and one post ought to tell you something (and yes, the something is that I’m a little behind on posting). 

First up – The Love of a Good Woman

So you know my deal with short stories and my deal with Alice Munro (hate the former, love the latter, the complexity of this hate-love keeps me up at night). So why did I find this collection to be… less than satisfying? I don’t know. I think maybe I had some weird and misplaced expectation that these stories were going to link together more – I kept waiting for a bit more resonance. Of course the usual Munro things stayed true: her genius, the capacity for a single sentence to capture an entire character/setting, the thrust of a verb… so no complaints with the stories themselves, more a complaint with the stories as a collection. I just wasn’t thrilled.

Cue – Death in Summer

I’ve been meaning to read more of William Trevor since discovering him with “Love and Summer” (like discovering “Madonna” as a pop star – I must have been living under a rock not to know about him). So on a recent used-book-store adventure with S. I bought a couple of his books. I was giddy with the prospect of more genius (maybe my problem with both writers is that I expect perfection and am crushed when I read only really, really, utterly, brilliant, genius?). The book delivers knockout descriptions, but is lacking in plot coherence. It sets itself up as a murder mystery, but unfolds as a Sunday tea in the heat of summer: lazy, oppressive and plodding. That reads a bit cruel, and I’d take it back, except I didn’t like the book (gasp! did I say it? yes, I did) – I love Trevor, think he’s genius, but wasn’t at all captivated by this one. I’ll try the other one I bought and hope for better things. Until then…

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Filed under Canadian Literature, Fiction, Prize Winner

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