Notorious RBG by Carmon and Knizhnik

I’m still mad at RBG.

Appointed by Clinton in 1993, Ruth was only the second female on the Supreme Court (That’s right, kids: the mens used to think that mixing a career and family was too much for us. It wasn’t until 1993 that we had enough juice to play in the most powerful court. Did you vote for Hilary?).

Ruth Bader Ginsberg has acquired a bit of a cult following since then, perhaps because our perceptions of both petite, reticent women, and elderly women don’t always square with the powerhouse legal mind and workhorse Ruth so obviously is. The book, Notorious RBG, came out of a Tumblr started by two women who admired her work, particularly her dissenting opinions when the Supreme Court eroded the Voting Rights Act. (http://notoriousrbg.tumblr.com/)

Notes about the book: structurally, it reminded me of a cross between the ‘Dummies’ series of books and a biography. The biographical bits were broken down by subject focus, such as her very early years, academic life, family life, her work pre-Supreme Court, her relationships with other Court members, and her relationship with her husband. Being older and of a more traditional literary discipline, I tend to like my biographies to follow along a more chronological order. I feel it builds a better conceptual idea of how someone becomes who they are. Instead, it jumped around, mentioning her academic work in that section, but then talking more about the personal sacrifices in the family section. So it didn’t work as well for me.

I appreciated the authors’ attempts to make law more interesting and to provide some historical context, but inclusions often made the topical sections feel even more disjointed. For instance, one chapter has a timeline of major decisions affecting women, and one has a short brief she wrote with red notations on the side, commenting on Ruth’s paper. I greatly appreciated the collected pictures, both personal and professional.

So here’s the deal: I’m irritated as hell she didn’t step down during President Obama’s second term, particularly as a person who believed that cultural change comes from small, progressively stacked, well-founded decisions. The trend of the country was obvious. She had faced two cancer diagnosis and turned 80 his second term. Had she retired as Sandra Day O’Connor did after dealing with breast cancer, she would have had a solid 20 years on the court and a remarkable career by anyone’s definition. But no one–not even powerhouses–lives forever, and I felt like she had a duty to her feminist, populist and legal principles to ensure a better successor than one we will be likely to get.

However, in context of her life, it absolutely makes sense from her perspective, that of a woman who is passionately dedicated to law. She worked while her children were young, at one point trading positions with her husband so he could stay home with the kids and support her. I can’t remember, but believe she either worked the day he passed or the day of his funeral. She was meticulous, thoughtful, and prepared. I think she’s an amazing person, but a truly noble act would have been to help shift the court away from the conservative legal minds who erode her own goals.

 

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Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire. Nothing to see here.

Read  October 2017
Recommended for Srs Fans Only
★   

 

Magic for Nothing, whether intended or not, has the plot of a classic spy caper: an agent belonging to Group One needs to infiltrate Group Two. In the context of the Incryptid series, it is a strategy that makes little sense. In the five preceding books, readers have been told a great deal about the nefarious Covenant, and about the Price strategy of living in vigilant secrecy under concealed identities. The family is reacting to the shocking events of book four, Chaos Choreography, and their brilliant plan is a Cold-War era maneuver based on information from ‘tradition’ and from Verity’s husband, Dominic, who left the Covenant in book two and was literally an orphan. Let me repeat: their grand plan is to infiltrate an organization based on ‘lore’ and the knowledge of one person, after “two to four” generations of aggressive hiding.

Not only is it an abrupt reversal in the Incryptid storyline, it is incredibly stupid. What about using the resources of, oh, I don’t know, say the entire magical Incrypid community who has a lot to lose if the Prices are wiped out? There’s also ordinary information gathering resources like GPS tracking, spyware, plain stalking, etc. But whatever. McGuire has a plot to move along, so let’s just accept the premise that a group is willing to change “two to four” generations of behavior overnight.

What really became a sticking point for me was the writing. We’re on book five in a series; presumably most people aren’t grabbing it for the first time. If they do, well, it’s fair to weave in some backstory, and as a series reader, I’ve come to expect it. But McGuire is incredibly unskillful resorting to her main character repeatedly explaining these things to herself. She does this not once, but repetitively, particularly in regards to the Covenant:

Page 22: “See, either two or four generations ago, depending on which branch of the family you start counting from, we were part of an organization of asshole monster hunters called, wait for it, the Covenant of St. George… The Covenant felt, and presumably still feels, that anything they considered ‘unnatural’ should be wiped from the face of the planet, preferably with extreme prejudice…”  This continues for another page and is thorough enough to fall into ‘full backstory.’

Page 29: “Of course, if the Covenant came for us tomorrow, all the thinking ahead in the world wouldn’t save us.” Stressing how lethal the Covenant is. Again.

Page 33: “Thanks to Dominic, we know the location of three Covenant recruiting facilities in the U.K… none of them will take you without a strong background and referral, but those are easy enough to arrange. The referral doesn’t even have to come from a standing member. They’re so wedded to their ‘knights errant’ self image that if you just show up and say an old man told you to go there to fulfill your destiny, they’ll take it.” I’ll allow it under ‘mission briefing,’ although honestly–your lethal killers will recruit you with that story?

Page 36: “The Covenant is made of traditionalists, which is another way of saying that they’re set in their ways. If something isn’t broken, they don’t go out of their way to fix it. Fascinatingly, being traditionalists working off of a centuries-old model doesn’t make them sexists. The Covenant off St. George has been recruiting women since the Middle Ages, apparently recognizing that sometimes the most effective warriors are the ones no one would see coming. My gender wasn’t going to be an impediment. My background, on the other hand, was.” More explanobabble about the Covenant, who although pretty conservative and regressive, apparently were progressive enough to allow women to fight. But wait–I thought they would accept Antimony on her ‘destiny’ story.

Mind you, this is all in the pre-infiltration. We get a lot more of her thinking about “the Covenant this” and “the Covenant that” once she actually meets up with them and has dinner with them while they hint at killing her.

Then there’s the Aeslin mouse Antimony smuggled in with her. Despite concealment in her backpack with ‘days of supplies,’ the Covenant doesn’t find it when they search Antimony’s things. Later, the mouse and Antimony have whispered conversation with her mouse, in the same room as her Covenant roommate/minder/antagonist because her roommate’s snores were regular and loud, so it must be safe.

 

Wow, that’s really good subterfuge. You never see that plot in James Bond. There certainly aren’t any kind of special devices that might be able to record picture and sound.

Honestly, the infiltration plot was stupid. The book relies on a lot of other material to keep it going, including a poltergeist in chapter one that has nothing to do with the plot, and roller derby practice in chapter two. I was reaching a quit point around page forty when McGuire suddenly followed up on hints she had thrown out earlier, and had a sort-of confrontation between sisters Verity and Antimony. Having a somewhat challenged relationship with my own sister, I was intrigued to see where it would go, but apparently a quick hug and apology solves everything (thanks for tuning in to this week’s After School Special).

Unbelievably logic-impaired within its own world, and with almost every page filled with telling, it wasn’t worth my time. I skipped ahead, was genuinely shocked at the ending–because it again messes with the series’ premise, not because it was good–and decided it really wasn’t worth my time.

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Free Fall by Robert Crais

Read  October 2017
Recommended for fans of detective thrillers
★    ★    ★    ★

 

A solid James Garner on the GRS-MV*

1– Peter Falk
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2–Tom Selleck
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3– Tony Shalhoub
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4– James Garner

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5– Benedict Cumberbatch
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Robert Crais is my new BFF. Maybe I exaggerate a bit. But I’ve been looking for a new detective series for so long, I’m a bit like an addict who has found a new fix. It didn’t even bother me that this one was clearly set in L.A. in the 90s. I was in L.A. in the 90s, but Elvis Cole clearly visited different parts than I did and spent a lot more time in Watts, especially watching X in the park. Although we did hang out with a uniformed cop one time. I’m not even sure how that happened–who lets a uniformed cop hang out with campus kids in the dorm? Clearly something untoward was happening in the L.A.P.D., as Crais elaborates. It also didn’t bother me that this felt almost entirely like a t.v. episode, because I happen to like over-the-top happy endings. Maybe that didn’t come out right. I mean, I don’t mind if there’s some property damage and liberally distributed roundhouse kicks as long as everyone pays for their crimes in the end, even if it’s only three days in county.

*Genre Rating Scale (Male Version).
(thanks Dan 2.0 for being the catalyst there)
(scale edited to provide clarification for certain friends. You know who you are, Jilly)

 

 

 

 

 

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The Castle Doctrine by Craig Schaefer

Read  October 2017
Recommended for fans of UF detective noir
★    ★    ★    ★

The sixth installment in the Daniel Faust series is a solid entry into one of the better urban fantasy series out there.

“Now I was free and clear. Free to answer one burning question. What do you do when you lose it all?”

If you remember–and surely, I eventually won’t–book five in the series, The Killing Floor Blues, was set in a prison, with Faust eventually breaking free–although the price was remaining legally dead, at least to law enforcement. Las Vegas is in the midst of a turf war, with Chicago mobsters trying to move into the vacancy left by former head Nikki, who hasn’t been seen in months. Faust and friends are hoping a talk with the head of the Chicago Family will pull the invaders out, but needless to say, the result is a full-scale war. One of Faust’s old enemies from the fourth book, A Plain Dealing Villain, is also out for revenge, but on the plus side, so is Freddie the fashion designer. 

“‘Say the words,’ Freddie told Halima.
‘I’m not saying it.’
Freddie waved a checkbook at her. ‘One thousand dollar donation to the Field Museum, right here and now, but you have to say the words.’
Halima let out a weary sigh and looked our way.
‘Come with me if you want to live,’ she said.
Freddie squealed with delight as we piled into the backseat.”

As always, characterization of the protagonist team shines. Opposition may be a little color-by-number, a detail that perhaps prevents a truly amazing book, but is otherwise unnoticeable. Caitlin plays her usually strong supporting role, and I found myself impressed by her at the end. Schafer captured that sense of Hell’s patience and time. I also appreciated what appears to be developments in Faust’s character, but honestly, I felt a little like I was watching a re-run. I’m not sure if that sense is from the stereotypical ‘rite-of-passage’ personal resolution or that Faust has done it before. I kind of feel it’s the latter. It reminds me more than a bit of the third book in the series, The Living End, where Faust and friends band together to solve a problem.

Like other books, this one is packed with action. I did have a couple troubles with the plotting, the first being Faust’s ‘legally dead’ status being used to brow-beat him into action, when he had enough motivation to do so anyway. The second issue was the trip to Chicago, which made virtually no sense to me in light of Faust’s non-existent standing in the crime scene. That said, it’s a great ride if you just go along with it. For those who want to know about cliffhangers, while the Las Vegas issue is certainly resolved, the issue about the Eternal Story and the mysterious Enemy working against Faust is not.

My edition isn’t as full of outlining as it normally is in a Faust book, but one lovely bit stood out:

“Hospital time is the dark twin to casino time. Both move at their own pace, untouched by the world outside the walls, playing tricks on you and skewing your vision.”

I definitely recommend to fans of the series. For those who enjoy urban fantasy with a bit of pseudo-antihero, what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

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Extreme Prey by John Sandford

Read  September 2017
Recommended for fans of private detectives
★    ★    1/2

Checked out because 1) it was in large print, 2) I’m looking for non-torture-porn detective series for the mom, and she seems to not mind some of these factory mill books, and (sigh) 3) the exciting colors of the cover. I needed something brainless while I recovered from The Trees so I decided to preview it for her last night. Don’t take that personally if you love this series.

Well-written for the genre but troubled by with several ‘um, what?’ moments, particularly the multiple extreme reactions of Iowans of Baby Boomer age, a detective who is [temporarily duped by a new hairstyle and the strange ‘wtf?’ of the police not considering bombing as part of their assassin scenario. (hide spoiler)]I checked to see what year this was written–2016, so no excuses there, and it’s set post 9-11, so it seems a startling blind spot. That said, I appreciated its pace. Has a gay police officer who stood out in characterization from the others, so I’m a bit ambivalent about that. [ And was strangely not surprised when he was shot, perhaps because he was the only Iowan police character Sandford bothered to develop? (hide spoiler)]

Still, not bad for my generally low expectations of the genre. I look to these types of books (Lee Child’s Reacher, Robert Parker’s Spencer, Connelley) for mindless entertainment and tend to read more as palate cleansers or when I’m so busy that I want something undemanding. Worth trying the beginning of the series.

Two and a half guns.

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Lullaby Town by Robert Crais

Read  October 2017
Recommended for fans of private detectives
★    ★    ★    1/2

 

Finally. Found a new detective series that manages to entertain without offending. Fabulous. I don’t mean that the book is fabulous; I was starting to despair that I could find a private eye series that didn’t involve cats or serial killers. Seriously, people–does is have to be one or the other? I mean honestly–cats are kind of serial killers, right?

I started with this one based on friends’ reviews–thanks, friends. Published in 1992, there’s definitely an aspect that feels very period to me, but its done well enough so forgetaboutit.

The story has a two part structure, so there isn’t much to say about the second without spoiling the first. Our hero is Elvis Cole, a private eye with a smart mouth, no style sense (unless you call a sweatshirt with Mickey Mouse a style), and extensive martial arts training. A good friend asks him to meet with a ridiculously famous Hollywood director who wants  him to find his ex-wife and son who he hasn’t had contact with in over ten years. Cole doesn’t ask enough questions, of course, but who can blame him? Mr. Hollywood Director got on my last nerve as well. Of course, not everyone appreciates Elvis’ humor:

“Donnie Brewster made the nervous frown. ‘Stop with the humor, okay? I tell him you’re brilliant and gifted, you make with the humor, he’s gonna know that you’re not.'”

Elvis is not in the least a tortured soul, and as for his bestie, Joe Pike, well, who knows? He’s a man of few words.

“Pike didn’t answer.
‘You know the director, Peter Alan Nelsen? He’s our client.’
Pike didn’t answer some more. Trying to talk with Pike is like carrying on a fill-in-the-blank conversation.”

The writing is interesting, with thoughtful bits interwoven. Crais’ style is occasionally deceptively simple, with a reliance on ‘and’ that would have had my English teacher reaching for the red pen.

“I closed the toilet lid and sat on the seat and felt myself living. I felt the blood move and the lungs work and the muscles pull against bone. I hurt, but it was better than being in the hospital and better than being dead.”

 

The plotting managed to surprise me more with a deviation from the traditional missing persons format and then a couple of twists based on actions that were completely logical within character context, just not within the mystery plot format. I appreciated that the missing woman was given a great deal of agency, respect and self-awareness. Kudos to Crais for being ahead of his time.

As far as I can tell, the only downside is that Elvis does indeed own a cat, who probably a closet serial killer. I’ll have to learn to tolerate it. Humor, decent writing, a general lack of overt sexism and an absence of torture means this is easily a four star genre read and a series I’ll continue.

 

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Rules of Prey by John Sandford

Read  October 2017
Recommended for people who meet the checklist
★     1/2

Read only if:

1. You’re John Sandford’s A+ Number One Fan
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2. You are a completionist and must read every book in the Lucas Davenport series
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3. You’re secretly in love with/wish you were Sonny Crockett, a spiffy dressed Extra Special Maverick Detective who loves clothes and women in equal proportions, with fast cars a close third
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4. You never tire of the serial killer character and their ‘games’ with the police
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5. You have no problem with detectives sexing the recent victim of an attempted rape/homicide
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6. You are stuck in Newark Airport and this is the only book available

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Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Read  September 2017
Recommended for fans of Unique Families
★    ★    ★     1/2

 

Imagine you live with a baker. You are treated weekly to such home-baked deliciousness as double-chocolate peppermint cookies, lemon squares, blueberry puree oat bars, lemon ricotta cookies and almond toffee bars. Now imagine you wander into the kitchen and the baker hands you a chocolate-chip cookie, fresh from the package.

mmm, preservatives.

Such was my experience reading Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory. I really enjoy Gregory’s work–three of his books are five-star reads for me–but this missed the edgy, flavor-filled writing that I’ve come to expect from him.

Narration is shared between the blood members of the Telemachus family: founding member Teddy; his daughter, Irene; her son, Matty; and Teddy’s other two sons, Frankie and Buddy. Additionally, it ranges back and forth through time, from a disastrous television appearance when Irene, Frankie and Buddy were children, to the ‘now,’ when Matty experiences his gift for the first time. Given the narrative and time shifts, it is impressive at how well it flows together. Plotting is deft, slowly weaving the 1995 now for each character with a seminal event or two from their backstories, and then wonderfully bringing them all together in a very dramatic climax. It was fairly obvious that there was method to Buddy’s madness, but part of the fun is seeing how it all dovetails together.

The characters stand out well, and within the confines of the pieces of life we see, they do feel dimensional. However, with the exception of Teddy, they never feel quite like real people to me. Perhaps it is because the viewpoint shifting limits depth, or perhaps the problem is that each description, interaction or event seemed to reinforce the primary characteristics of the character. Grandpa the con-man. Frankie as oldest son trying desperately to win approval by being like his dad. Irene, the over-worked, love-lost daughter caretaking for everyone but herself. The idolized but dead Grandma. Buddy, the non-verbal, far-out youngest son. Matty the grandson trying to figure out his place.

“(Grandpa Teddy always played for money, and never gave it back after a game. ‘You can’t sharpen your knife on a sponge,’ he’d say.”
“Uncle Frankie had shown Matty the tape at Thanksgiving four years ago. Frankie had been drinking a lot of red wine, hitting it hard as soon as his wife, Loretta, unwrapped the shrimp cocktail appetizers, and his sentences had turned emphatic and urgent.”
“Buddy remained unperturbed. He’d been in one of his trances since finishing his pie, staring into space, occasionally smiling to himself or silently mouthing a word or two. His muteness was a mystery to Matty, and the adults wouldn’t talk about it, a double silence that was impenetrable.”

I’m a big fan of Daryl Gregory, but for me, this veered too far into the land of literary fiction, focusing on internal character issues instead of larger wierdness. I like his tinges of horror with the urban fantastical in We Are All Completely Fine, the sheer uniqueness of Afterparty, or the even well-done early adolescent viewpoint in Harrison Squared. This feels a little too chocolate-chip mainstream for what I’ve come to expect from Gregory. Other people loved it, so I hope that it brings Gregory some well-deserved attention.

If you enjoyed this, I recommend Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files, which contains similar daffiness, or Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, if you like a little romance with your magical realism.

Three and a half chocolate chip cookies, because I know Gregory is capable of Monster cookies.

chocolate-monster-cookies-3

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Bellevue by David Oshinsky

Read  September 2017
Recommended for fans of medicine, hospitals, history
★    ★    ★    ★  

This book was 100% written by a historian, not a biographist, so temper expectations accordingly. Bellevue is a famous–some might say infamous–hospital in New York City, and when I saw my friend Melora’s review, I was intrigued by the combination of NYC, medicine and general nuttiness. However, Oshinsky believes one should start at the very beginning; to wit, from the very origins of ownership on the piece of land Bellevue occupies to its more modern role in the city. Along the way he digresses into the development of medical practice, immigration, the Civil War, politics in NYC, public health, the politics of poverty and health, electroshock therapy, AIDS, and Sandy. The topics are often interesting, but result in an uneven whole.

Bellevue, the name of a river estate, was leased in 1795 by to become a hospital for people suffering from ‘yellow fever” since it was so far from the city. As Oshinsky continues, he traces the origins of disease management in the burgeoning seaport of NYC and Bellevue’s role in both caring for poor immigrants and unusual diseases.

He recounts how the ‘practice’ of medicine grew, developing from its infancy along the lines of surgeons (the ‘bone-setter’), doctors and apothecaries. Doctors were usually wealthy people who may have gone to school, or may have only apprenticed, and Bellevue’s never-ending supply of patients meant a never-ending opportunities for students to learn on people who couldn’t afford to go elsewhere. Oshinsky is especially fascinated by the practice of blood-letting and tells us far too much about it. However, it was apparently part of the cause of death of one of our Presidents.

A section on the Civil War brought advances in medicine–eventually–and about the same time, anesthesia was developed that allowed people to better tolerate surgery. Progress was made on successful amputations that doctors during the war brought back to Bellevue. Bellevue doctors were also connected with treating Presidents Lincoln and Garfield.

Meanwhile, as NYC grew, so did the need for more medical facilities, which often seemed to pan out among class lines, with New York Hospital taking fee-paying patients. As NYC struggled with immigrant issues and prejudice, hospitals started to ‘specialize,’ with Jews’ Hospital opening in 1855 (now the famous Mount Sinai) and the ‘German Hospital’ in 1868 (anti-German sentiment in WWI led to it being renamed Lenox Hill in 1918). There were also hospitals focusing on Presbyterians, Episcopalians, German Catholics (St. Francis) and poor Italians (Columbus). [Ed.: now that America is less religious, we just have hospitals for the Catholics. And a lot of hospitals unofficially stratified by economic status]

Public health departments took off because of a Bellevue doctor who realized many of his typhus patients lived in a particular East Side tenement. Collaborating with a journalist, they shamed a landlord into repairs. He testified before Congress and helped write the Metropolitan Health Act, revolutionizing public health and improving a child mortality of 25% [Ed.: another good thing government does, people, is look after your health and safety]. Another doctor who had helped start an ‘ambulance corps’ during the Civil War ended up at Bellevue, where he became instrumental in getting ambulance stagecoaches (stocked with whiskey, bandages and a straightjacket, all the essentials of a modern E.R. –I’m joking!)

A section on Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was intriguing. Despite the lessons from Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Irene the year earlier, staff at Bellevue decided to shelter in place and stay open. Though generators were on the thirteenth floor, the fuel pumps for Bellevue (located along the river, remember) were in the basement. As the local Con Edison blew, the generators ran dry and a gasoline bucket brigade was formed. When the extent of Sandy’s damage became clear, Bellevue finally closed, resulting in a patient diaspora.

I also found the section on AIDS fascinating. NYC was pretty close to ground zero with the epidemic, and Bellevue, with its tradition of providing health care to the uninsured, indigent people of the city, was one of the first places to notice the unusual clusters of Kaposi’s sarcoma and pneumocistis carcinii (since renamed jiroveci) that characterized late stages of the syndrome. It dovetailed briefly with a discussion on hospice/end-of-life care and nursing, which was both interesting and sad.

Most sections were extremely interesting, but there was a lot of digressive and filler material that detracted from the focus on Bellevue specifically. For instance, the section on Hurricane Sandy was contrasted with another nearby semi-private hospital, Tisch Hospital, as well as hospitals in New Orleans. Independently of a book about Bellevue, that would have been an interesting book in and of itself. I certainly found descriptions of dealing with hospitalized patients during disaster fascinating. The section on AIDs is likewise contrasted with response to the crisis in San Francisco–interesting, definitely, and again worth of a book–but less important to Bellevue itself. It felt like many historical books focused to the mass market, digressing into semi-titillating side-stories that aren’t as germane.

Overall, lots of fascinating topics covered, contextualized by one of America’s first hospitals to serve the poor. There’s a nice set of colorplates in the edition I read, which is interesting, and particularly helpful in discussion of a somewhat controversial painting of surgeon pre-sterile surgery. Many thanks to Melora for bringing it to my attention!

 

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The Trees by Ali Shaw. Or, The Characters.

 
Read  September 2017
Recommended for fans of green apocalypses
★    ★    ★    ★   1/2

Walden meets the apocalypse.

Don’t read this book. You will complain that there is no plot, and it’s true, there isn’t much, not really. It’s entirely allegorical, and you hate allegorical books. You will be irritated by the characters: one full of daffy, unrealistic optimism, one self-pitying and full of so much inertia he can barely move. You will hate that it isn’t grounded in real possibility, because what is possibly real about millions of trees sprouting full grown from the soil overnight? The dialogue will likely annoy you, consisting as it does of travelers making traveling decisions, holding each other accountable, offering solace. You will find the forays into magical realism, into myth and fairy tale distracting, and wish that they would just hurry up and reach their destination already.

For me, however, it was the perfect book at the perfect time, a dovetailing of my own green tendencies and a love for the end of the world as we know it. An apocalyptic fairy tale that has quiet and solid emotional truth about choices, self-determination and risk. Early on were parts where two of the main characters, Hannah and Adrien, significantly annoyed, but it is quickly apparent that such behaviors were both part of their role in the story and an evolving point. There are two teenagers, Seb and Hiroko that help provide balance to the heaviness of the adults. And that was one of the most interesting things about this book, that I believed these characters. I believed their take on the issues they confronted. Rather than being bored, I was fascinated by both the smallness of some issues–a mother’s reaction to a child’s lifestyle choice–and the largeness of other ones. I believed them all.

“Both the town and the woods were quiet that morning. Where, in the days before, they had been filled with cries and sobbing and the sounds of things crashing into the dirt, now there was just the simmer of the leaves, and grey faces watching the three new travelers without expression as they passed. Adrien’s final sight of the place where he had lived for so many years was an electricity hub fished off the ground, dangling its cables like a jellyfish caught in a net. Then the town was gone, and he was walking after Hannah down a ruined route of tarmac, and trees were leaning over him from every direction.”

I think people with a high tolerance for fairy tale-like worlds and plotting will enjoy this. Interestingly, I found its journey of the self reminding me of Mythago Wood, a book I didn’t care for at all. It also reminds me more than a bit of The Night Circus, less in the way of beautiful imagery but with many similarities in a meandering sort of plot. Don’t read this book if you don’t have a high tolerance for The Long Walk(s).

Four and a half stars, rounding up because it’s been rare these days that a story has so absorbed me.

 

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