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Brent

Roswell, GA, United States | Member Since 2004

ratings
3
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  • The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Steven Sherrill
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    Overall
    (754)
    Performance
    (708)
    Story
    (708)

    Five thousand years out of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur finds himself in the American South, living in a trailer park and working as a line cook at a steakhouse. No longer a devourer of human flesh, the Minotaur is a socially inept, lonely creature with very human needs. But over a two-week period, as his life dissolves into chaos, this broken and alienated immortal awakens to the possibility for happiness and to the capacity for love.

    Cathy says: "Full of surprises, delightfully unexpected"
    "Great premise and potential but sadly unsatisfying"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I should preface this review by saying I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman's and selected this book simply because he recommended it.

    To start with the positives, the performance and voice of the book is very well done. Holter Graham took a very difficult task - a main character who primarily communicates in grunts, single words and short phrases and who relies heavily on inflection - and pulls it off admirably. He also does a fine job of giving individual voices to the supporting characters. I will also mention that the the writing is technically excellent; the author has a wonderful command of language and I found myself marveling at the extensive and precise vocabulary he employs. It would be interesting to count how many unique words appear in this book and compare to novels of similar length. I suspect Steven Sherrill will have the average scribe outpaced by some distance.

    My concerns with the book involve the story, or rather the general lack of one. The setup is clear: a 5000 year old immortal creature of mythology is currently working as a cook in a restaurant in North Carolina. There's no spoiler in telling this; it's on the liner notes. The problem is that the book vaguely hints at but doesn't explain *how* this came to be, what the Minotaur thinks of this or how and why society accepts him or does not accept him (except when convenient as a plot device). Moreover there is little story arc - not a lot happens. I spent the first couple hours of the book thinking that it was exposition and setup before the real story of the book began. Only later did I realize that it *is* the book. There are characters introduced and never fleshed out; some characters that are merely caricatures (Shane?) and there are a couple very interesting characters encountered and a great possibilities hinted at that are never explained or returned to. (What was chasing the pigs? What is the deal with the video game playing gas station attendant?) The author hints at a universe of possibility but doesn't give us any of it. The plot, such as it is, lacks any real payoff, resolution or satisfying conclusion. Perhaps that's the whole point - if you're immortal that's what life must feel like - but as a decidedly mortal reader I like having revelations, resolutions, and identifiable change to the characters and myself when I read a novel.

    I found that while the book was well written and well performed, it was ultimately unsatisfying. I left disappointed, and not curious enough to invest another 10 hours in whatever comes next to see if more of the universe is revealed.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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