This was perhaps one of the worst books I've ever read....yet.... It was the worst, because, I think at some level I like to like at least some character in a book I read....or at least relate to them. Every character in this book was detestable. The narrator was one of the most pathetic creatures in all of literature. This was a tragedy, only in the American sense of the word...not in the Greek sense...for there wasn't an ounce of hubris. They say pride goeth before the fall....this was just the fall.
So why did I give it 3 stars, instead of one. This book was incredibly well written....and way ahead of it's time in narrative. The narrator rambles unbelievably...I would say he is one of the worst story tellers....but through him, Mr. Ford shows himself to be one of the best. He reminded me of the "idiot" from Faukner's The Sound and the Fury, or the way things unfolded in the movie Memento. The story unfolds, so oddly, it is really quite incredible....and all of this after he has essentially told you the end of the book at the beginning....Yet the full import doesn't hit until later....and then it hits again...and again...and again.
The story was totally depressing...the characters, totally without redeeming qualities....what happens...pretty awful....yet somehow the art of telling this story...was quite a sight to behold....or listen too.
Before when I talked about the Narrator, I meant the character in the story who tells the entire story. The narrator of this book, Mr. Frank Muller, was quite outstanding. I hated him....he had a smarmy aristocratic condescending tone....which exactly matched the character who narrates the book! His voice, his attitude, his intonation, was perfect for this book.
So basically it was a perfectly told story that I happened to hate, yet will probably not forget for some time to come.
The story seemed to build slowly to a dramatic point....and then was over. It was as if the whole story was an introduction...then it ended right about where most stories would get going. This might actually be a clever literary device....but it didn't come off that way. Also, there was some foreshadowing....but it was so out of the blue, that it really didn't mean much. That is, when one of the main characters gives a glimpse of the future...you feel like she felt she had to slip that in....but up until that moment, there was really nothing else in the character's early actions to justify their later actions. Just a general disconnect between the character development and the plot development.
Where everything came together nicely in The Time Traveler's Wife, here, it seems much more forced, with characters acting....out of character...to advance the plot.
Hope Ms. Niffenegger returns to form next time.
I thought this book was thoroughly enjoyable. I called it a "little" book, only in that nothing grand happens. It is about as far removed from an epic as a book gets. Instead it is a few slices of some fairly ordinary lives. There is very little plot, yet the slices are at moderately pivotal portions of the these lives.
The book was divided into three parts, each primarily from one character's viewpoint (though all intertwined). But within each part are two story lines, one in the current time, and one in the past.
My only complaint is that it took me a little while to understand in an audiobook when we were transitioning from present to past. The scottish accent was a little tough too, but go to where I could comprehend easily after an hour or so.
But the book was touching....some resolution to its issues....though not perfect resolution, as is too often the case in life.
I was very intrigued by the concept of this book and by the buzz that has surrounded it for years. But when I finally listened to it, I found it to be ultimately a disappointment. Oz is made to be, not the fantasy land of the original, but instead a place very like ours, almost to the point of boredom. Nothing is too magical in Oz, though people study magic. Instead it seems only as exotic as, perhaps, 19th century Europe. Kids go to school, politics happen, people take up futile causes. This is underscored by a lot of philosophizing by the key players. Some of this might have a point....but not much really seems to.
Except for the end, it seems like little of this story has to do with The Wizard of Oz. And I kept trying to relate the two....but ultimately they felt unrelated. I feel to some degree that this was a boring story, that rode on the coattails of a beloved story.
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