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2.0 out of 5 starsAn Ok book
Reviewed in the United States on October 16, 2020
At first I was interested and it started as a colorful story w joyed the attention to detail but it just got repetitive and could not really hold.my attention.
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2020
Shani Mootoo knows how to write. This has been evident since her debut novel "Cereus Blooms at Night." Now, many years and several novels later, Mootoo gives us "Polar Vortex," a psychological novel examining the minds, fears, emotions, and paranoias of three people: the narrator, her wife, and a male friend from college with whom she'd been quite close. The entire novel is about these three characters. Another woman appears briefly, but most of the book centers around the three. Although it is difficult to acknowledge, the three main characters in Mootoo's latest book have to be the most unlikable in recent fiction. Turning page after page, the reader becomes almost irate at what seems the irrational behavior and thoughts of these two women and one man. Of course, Mootoo is showing what actually goes on in intimate relationships when communication breaks down and distrust creeps in. She is showing, also, how memories work in strange ways, sometimes to the point where they can be either curative or punishing. Sometimes they are not even real. A short book (at least in advance uncorrected proof form), "Polar Vortex" seems a bit generic. This could be a portrait of the breakdown of anyone's relationship - straight or gay. The players on the stage could be male, female, or transgendered. Even though there is an attempt to make gender play a part, it really doesn't. By the middle of the book the reader yawns. Relationships breaking down and breaking up occur all the time. This story has been done before. Yes, Mootoo highlights race, immigrants, and refugees. In that respect, the book and its characters are politically correct. But the reader no longer cares as the story is so ploddingly predictable. The first half offers a bit of suspense as one wonders what will happen when the male friend arrives for a visit, but after that, all anticipation of anything interesting happening breaks down. Oh! How the reader longs for the Shani Mootoo who wrote "Cereus Blooms at Night." That was true LGBTQ fiction and in an exotic, tropical setting besides. The reader learned something from "Cereus." Unfortunately, living in Canada may not be the best for feeding Mootoo's creative side. In this book, she has disappointed some of her fans. But, maybe the earlier Mootoo will be back.
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2020
Priya and Alex, a mature lesbian couple, are living a quietly fulfilling life on a small Ontario island. IF Priya feels uncomfortable there it's because she stands out for her skin color, not her relationship. What Alex doesn't know is about to come back to bite her, though, because she's never told Alex about Prakash, a university friend who didn't care that Priya preferred women. Priya went offline to get away but now, now that she's firm with Alex, she goes back on and poof- Prakash finds her. A casual suggestion (the kind no one means) that he visit- he takes it seriously. Does Priya relate more to Prakash than Alex on some level because they are both brown immigrants? That's a lingering question that floats through her ruminations. It's beautifully and thoughtfully written. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. For fans of literary fiction.