It took my book club people expressing total surprise that I liked Bridges of Madison County for me to reflect on why I liked it. I kept saying ‘but it’s good writing’ and they were like… no. They read a few passages out loud. They reminded me of the repeated references to peregrines and the representation of men as total wood-smoke masculinity. And I blushed. They were right. The writing is excessive. The representation of masculinity is problematic. The commitment to soul-mate-love is unbelievable.
I liked it. I liked the frame narrative and its efficacy in trapping me into believing the reality of the fiction. I liked the romance of the relationship with its intensity and improbability and sacrifice. I recognized the limitations of this romance – of course any relationship that lasts for a week can be idealized for the rest of your life, you never have to deal with mortgage payments or diapers or redistributing emotional labour – but still found it compelling and heartbreaking.
So yeah. It’s problematic and not brilliant writing. And I still liked it. Plus it took like ten minutes to read, so there’s that.
It’s hard to read a book like Crazy Rich Asians while living a decidedly middle class life. It’s probably harder still if you’re not the beneficiary of a defined benefits pension plan and in a unionized position like I am. The book sets out to be fun [insert jazz hands]! To introduce the west to contemporary Asia! To put displays of excess on the page for ogling. Because if you can’t have your own billion dollars, the next best thing must be to read about it, right? Continue reading
I recently had a middle of the night worry that an author of a book I didn’t like might stumble across one of my I-didn’t-like-it reviews. Don’t worry. I fell quickly back to sleep. But the thought lingered. I like writing a good scathing review as much as the next blogger, but was I being fair to the novelist? Was I just having fun being a little too mean? Continue reading
I feel like I’ve written this blog post before. It was when I read Fredrik Backman’s other runaway bestseller, A Man Called Ove. In that post I explained why the novel was sentimental crap not worth reading. So you’re asking yourself ‘okay, if you didn’t like A Man Called Ove, why read Bear Town?’. Legit question, friend. Legit. Continue reading