This Week, I Read… (2017 #21)

65 - People of the Book

#65 – People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

How could I not love a brilliantly crafted historical fiction piece about chasing down the history of a book?

Through the course of this story, I learned about manuscript conservation and restoration; Bosnian politics in both the WWII era and the 1990s; Jewish family customs, holiday practices, and burial rites throughout a good chunk of history; the Spanish Inquisition; inter-faith tensions in the Middle East; and brain surgery.

Yep, all that in one book.

On top of bringing so many scattered subjects together under one narrative umbrella, which is a feat itself, the pacing was just perfect. It begins with a first-person section from the POV of Dr. Hanna Heath, the conservationist who’s asked to work on preserving the book, and as each mystery in its pages is investigated, the story switches to a third-person section detailing the story the anomaly, ranging from WWII Sarajevo to 15th-century Spain.

Just when I was used to that pattern, one of the final sections threw me for a loop–a historical first-person section from the POV of the manuscript’s illuminator. A brilliant move, to make that particular section more immediate and personal by breaking the 1st-person-present/3rd-person-past seesaw.

And then, Lola, a character from the first flashback section, comes back in the present day for a first-person POV of her own. I’m not going to lie, I almost teared up. I was moved and charmed and really, this story was amazing. If you like books and small mysteries and history, at least. Which I do.

66 - Asking For Trouble

#66 – Asking for Trouble, by Rosalind James

As the youngest sibling in my family, and as a woman who struggled for years with What I Wanted To Do When I Grew Up, I found the heroine Alyssa easy to relate to. Her successes always seem small when compared to those of her twin older brothers (Gabe and Alec from books 1 + 2) and her failures seem bigger. She starts the book suddenly without either a job or a relationship, trying to find something to do with herself that matters.

And finding herself in close proximity to our hero, Joe. This romance works two tropes pretty successfully–the childhood crush (she’s known Joe since she was a teenager) and the sibling’s best friend (Joe was one of Alec’s roommates in college and is currently his business partner.) So tension abounds, and for good reason.

What I liked best about this story is that that tension never felt false or forced. Joe is a classic workaholic introvert who is big and tough physically, and stoic to cover up a surprisingly vulnerable heart underneath. I praised Gabe in book 1 for being thoughtful, a trait I value highly in my own relationships, but Joe’s lack of awareness of what Alyssa expects of him feels genuine, and is something he learns to overcome.

The conflict points in the relationship make sense, and the two actually talk about them instead of letting them fester. Something I desperately wish more romances did instead of relying on blatantly fixable misunderstandings to create tension.

I like this final book in the Kincaids series best of the three, and I look forward to starting James’ Escape to New Zealand series soon, of which I have the first three books in a bundle pack. Despite my qualms about some of the things in the previous book, overall James has proved to be a solidly realistic writer with a smooth narrative style which doesn’t rely on lazy tropes to move her stories forward. The romance world needs more like her.

67 - Seveneves

#67 – Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

I’m not going to talk about the plot. The only thing I could do would be to spoil it, because BOY HOWDY DO YOU WANT TO GO INTO THIS BOOK BLIND. You shouldn’t even have read the book blurb on the back cover (it’s got major spoilers) or have peeked at the first line. Nope.

What I do want to talk about is how amazing this hard sci-fi is. I enjoy science-fantasy just fine, if the piece knows that’s what it is, but bad science fiction that gets science horribly wrong just exhausts me.

But Stephenson is a marvel of incorporating accurate, actual science into his works and then extrapolating it so far that it’s simultaneously unrecognizable and perfectly logical. It’s brilliantly accessible. In an 880-page tome, I didn’t have to look up a single word I didn’t know. Any scientific term I wasn’t already familiar with from my studies (and some of them I did) was immediately explained in a non-condescending way. Any word or abbreviation Stephenson made up for the story was immediately defined. I never felt lost or confused by the rigorous science, and it all served a purpose in the story.

I was also pleasantly surprised at how feminist this was. Not in the flaunting or agenda-touting way, just that women are the most important characters in the book. A strong female friendship is the backbone of the first two-thirds of the story, which threw me for a loop. Other women don’t get along so well, but it’s never jealousy over a man, petty backbiting, or gossip–the antagonistic relationships develop out of serious root causes.

I wish the fact that I read a book by a male author who treats female characters like actual people weren’t so surprising; but then, of what I’ve read, that list of authors is quite short, so I’ll take it where I can get it. And if it comes with a gripping, epic sci-fi storyline, so much the better.

68 - Light Years

# 68 – Light Years, by James Salter

DNF at a miraculous page 53. Yes, I usually give books til page 100 before I toss them, but I didn’t need to read any further before my opinion on this work solidified.

This is some of the worst Old White Male Fiction has to offer, and it wasn’t going to get any better.

From a technical standpoint, I can’t believe this made it past editing into print. Light Years has some of the most florid, overworked prose I’ve ever read. There is no noun to minor to be matched with an adjective, no verb strong enough not to need an adverb. I waded through entire paragraphs, sometimes even pages, where the only verbs were “to be” conjugates, which was an exhausting experience.

Then there’s the rampant head-hopping, and its strange baby cousin, room-hopping. A great deal of time is spent describing the house, the river, the bathroom, the kitchen, and sometimes it’s all at the same time. There were descriptors I honestly couldn’t match to a place or object–Salter could be describing gulls one sentence and Nedra in her kitchen the next, and pronoun confusion abounded. Sentence fragments piled up into word heaps that held no meaning. Similes assaulted me like cold rain. (See what I did there? That’s about the level we’re talking.)

Even setting aside the dumpster-fire aspect of the language, the story is beyond boring. Did we really need an entire chapter of stilted conversation between Viri and his new tailor about how he wanted his shirts made? How many books about shallow rich people and their shallow problems do we need? How many tales about failing marriages and adultery? What could possibly still be interesting about bored people making trouble for themselves because they don’t appreciate what they have? Why is this tripe still lauded as brilliant when it’s nothing more than literary masturbation?

Editing Notes: The Power of the Spoken Word, Part II

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As part of the editing process for What We Need to Survive back in late 2015, I wrote about how I read my novel to myself out loud to find errors my proofreaders had missed.

It worked amazingly well, but I won’t lie–it was a tiring process.

Recently, a better option came to my attention. TTSReader, a free text-to-speech app. Instead of reading it myself, I get to listen to a pleasantly robotic female voice read my novel to me.

In the first three chapters alone, I found two typos, three missing words, and six instances of word repetition that were more obvious out loud than on the page.

And I got to knit while I was listening, setting the project down whenever I needed to pause and make a correction.

I will say, the app accepts files in both text and PDF format, but when I used a PDF it created all sorts of unforced errors–for example, words smashed together or compressed around punctuation marks, like “said.She” which reads as “said dot she.” Very strange to hear. I had much better luck pasting text from my manuscript in directly, when only my own errors would come through.

Even after only a few hours using it, I much prefer letting the app’s electronic brain read to me than relying on my own. When I read my manuscripts to myself, I did catch errors, but it was still me reading my own writing–I had some idea what to expect. The app does not, which makes it superior, and of course, I also don’t have to wear out my voice this way.

75 Words to Describe Smells

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One of the more common pieces of writing advice is to engage with all five primary senses in a scene. It’s easy for most of us to describe sight and sound, as our characters move through the space we imagine in our minds and speak to others, listen to the radio or an argument in the next room or whatever.

Touch can be a step up in difficulty, but most of us manage this well: our characters linger over the feel of a leather-bound book or the softness of a lover’s skin.

Taste, well…unless the scene involves eating, that one is tough, and when it does, it’s usually easy. Rich wine or decadent chocolate, creamy peanut butter, and so on–we’ve got our own taste buds as easy reference for that.

But how often, as a reader, do you read about smells? How often, as a writer, have you tried to describe them?

I won’t claim to be an expert by any means–I was always conscious that decaying bodies stink when I was writing my What We Need series, but beyond that, I can only recall a few instances where I incorporated other smells into my writing.

To that end, I offer this list of adjectives to describe a wide range of smells, many of which (but certainly not all) would also be appropriate to use for tastes, as the two senses are closely related.

acidic fetid peppery
acrid fishy piney
ammoniacal floral piquant
animal fresh pungent
antiseptic fruity putrid
appetizing funky rancid
ashy gamy rank
astringent grassy resinous
balmy greasy rotten
bitter herbaceous salty
brackish green savory
briny irritating smoky
burnt medicinal soapy
camphoraceous metallic sour
chalky milky spicy
chemical minty spoiled
citrusy moldy stagnant
cloying musky stale
coppery musty stuffy
damp nauseating sulfurous
dank noisome sweaty
delicate noxious sweet
dusty odious tangy
earthy oily woodsy
fecal overpowering vile

This Week, I Read… (2017 #20)

62 - Fangland

#62 – Fangland, by John Marks

Evangeline Harker travels to Romania to vet a reputed crime boss for an interview for the show The Hour (ha, ha, I get it, you’re so clever, Mr. Author Who Used to Work for 60 Minutes) and instead winds up potential prey to a vampire.

I DNF’d at the end of the first section, page 104, and there are two major reasons why.

First, it’s wordy. Ridiculously so. I didn’t mind so much in the early chapters when that wordiness was devoted to describing the bleak landscape and Evangeline’s reactions to it–though there were occasional stereotypes/prejudices that made me cringe–but during her attempted escape from the creepy hotel, what was supposed to be pulse-pounding, terror-laden action was mere shuffling along, the pace weighed down by descriptions of Evangeline’s every thought and move.

I experienced a long shudder.

No, you didn’t, you shuddered. It’s a two-word sentence, damnit, just say “I shuddered.”

Second, and much worse, Marks has cemented his place among male writers who haven’t the faintest clue how to write a female character. I was actually pleased that it took several chapters before she described herself–usually that happens much sooner–but when she finally did, the description was definitely skewed for the male gaze, and not at all how women talk about their own looks.

But okay, that’s minor, right? But there’s more.

Say you’re a woman traveling alone in a foreign country for work. When you arrive late due to traffic, instead of meeting the contact you expected to, who would give you information and possibly set up a later meeting with the purported crime boss, you instead come face-to-face with someone claiming to be the boss himself.

A person whose appearance and demeanor disgusts you on more than one occasion.

A person you have reason to believe, if he is who he says he is, has allegedly committed crimes from money laundering and gun running to outright murder.

He says you can have your interview, but you must come with him right now, in the middle of the night.

Do you go?

I wouldn’t. Every instinct I have for self-preservation as a woman was screaming at me DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN.

Evangeline, on the other hand, was remarkably blasé about the potential dangers to her person, and went. Without calling her fiancé, or her boss at work, or anyone at all to tell them where she was going. And of course, once she got to the creepy hotel in the deep dark woods, no cell reception and she’d made an agreement to keep their “negotiations” about the interview private until he’d decided to do it or not, forbidding her contact with anyone.

Seriously. I don’t care how much she wants to land that interview–and at this point she’d already considered turning him down as an inappropriate subject several times, so she clearly wasn’t too invested–no potential kudos at work would make me risk my safety like that. Absolutely unrealistic.

But if she doesn’t go, there’s no story, because then she can’t find out the man’s not a crime boss, he’s a vampire. Because of course he is.

63 - Fallen

#63 – Fallen, by Lauren Kate

Even though I knew very little about this book going into it, reading it felt familiar. Why? Because it’s like a better, slightly less toxic version of Twilight, and also a less refined version of the (admittedly later-published, but earlier-read) Daughter of Smoke & Bone series.

I enjoyed myself enough to finish it, but it has a lot of flaws. Some are practical–why set the story in a reform school if all the students blatantly break the rules without consequence? What does that add to the story? Why doesn’t Luce, or anyone else, ever get into trouble for not going to class? There’s just that one detention (which Luce didn’t even deserve) at the very beginning, and then nothing else afterward. How strict could the school even be?

Others are more systemic. I get why Daniel is in love with Luce, I do. With him being the immortal half of this star-crossed love story, he’s the one with memories of all of Luce’s past lives. But why does she fall for him? You can hand-wave all you want and call it predestination, that they’re meant to be together, which I would have found terribly romantic at thirteen. But for a good chunk of the book, Daniel is a jerk sending laughably mixed messages and often treating Luce badly. And Cam, the other spoke of the unfortunate love triangle, spends most of the book treating her well, if with a slight sense of entitlement that grows to pushiness right at the end, before the whole fallen-angel thing is revealed.

So both of the potential romantic heroes have flaws that young girls should be especially wary of, but both are treated in the narrative as acceptable. Not cool, Fallen, not cool.

Because I know I would have adored this book as a tween, I did like it just a little. Not enough to continue with the series, most likely, but enough that I didn’t toss it aside after the first hundred pages. Still, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can find better tragic love stories elsewhere without the teen angst or problematic heroes.

64 - To Get Me To You

#64 – To Get Me To You, by Kait Nolan

I’ve complained in the past that I hate romances where the characters have unrealistic amounts of free time because they have jobs that they never seem to actually do.

I’ve just encountered the opposite problem. Norah may have lost her job, but she definitely still has ambition and a calling–she just puts her real life temporarily on hold to help her best friend’s family save their small Southern town from financial crisis. And Cam runs his own small business while also serving on the city council, both of which take up a large amount of time.

So while I liked the characters, the general writing style, and the perfect-match aspect of the romance, those jobs also took up a HUGE portion of the plot, to the point where I’d call this a Save The Town story with a romance subplot, instead of the other way around.

I’m not saying this is a bad book. It’s not. But the pacing does suffer some from the sheer amount of technical, legal, and political minutiae that weigh down the Save The Town plot. The two leads don’t even meet until about 10% in, and boy oh boy is that meeting well-written and charming, but the romance moves at an absolutely glacial pace until about halfway through the book.

And the climax of the conflict was based almost entirely on miscommunication, which is never my favorite way of putting two characters at odds. This particular version wasn’t as bad as some–it was at least rooted deeply in the personalities of the two leads, and so made a kind of sense–but still, having characters nearly break up because they refuse to just talk to each other leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

On the whole, for a freebie I picked up last year on an Amazon spree, I’m impressed, and I plan to read more of Nolan’s work. (I also got the second work in this series by signing up for her mailing list, and the third because it was also free at the time–I’m sure I’ll be reviewing those soon.) But I do hope this isn’t her best work.

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End of the Month Wrap-Up: May 2017!

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I’ll be honest; doing these monthly posts feels a lot less rewarding when I’m not getting anything accomplished.

This month, my family suffered another loss, and coming so quickly after the last one, my motivation has plummeted. I still think about writing, in that vague, far-off way of having ideas that never quite make it to the page. I still think about the things I should be doing, marketing-wise, to get my books to a wider audience, and to give my future books a better chance at succeeding.

But, for the moment, it’s all in the planning stages. Pushing myself to work through emotional turmoil is keeping me on my feet for my day job, but isn’t leaving much energy left for my writing work.

It will get better. It will. It just takes time.

On to this month’s stats. Writing: negligible. Journaling: almost non-existent. Exercise: getting back on track with yoga, basic bodyweight strength work, and even some running. It helps.

Reading: my only success story this month. I finished 13 books, a nice bounce-back from my April slump. I’m now just past halfway through the Dark Tower series, which is one of my major reading goals this year, and I’m working on clearing out more of my acquired-in-2015 shelf, because if I’m going to keep buying secondhand books at an alarming rate, I need to winnow out the duds. (I say this having just spent a Reading Rewards and a birthday coupon at Thriftbooks, with four books already arrived and four more on the way. Book mail rules.)

So, I don’t usually do this, but making lists my go-to organizational tool, and sharing it publicly makes me feel more accountable, at least in theory.

My June writing and writing-adjacent goals:

  1. Finish formatting What We Need to Rebuild and turn it over to my final proof editor for the last pass.
  2. Write the back cover blurb and brainstorm cover concepts to submit to my designer.
  3. Pending his schedule, get the damn book published. (This entirely depends on when he fits me in and how many rounds of changes we go through; if I can’t get completely done in June, I will move mountains to make it happen in July. I thought this book would be out in spring, not summer, but not every plan works out.)
  4. Write down all of the potential plot bunnies currently in my head and evaluate them for a next first-draft project.
  5. Reread my NaNo ’16 novel (that’s #rockstarnovel, to those of you who were following me through its process) and decide how to proceed. I originally intended it to be a standalone, but now I’m not sure. I have serious concept blocking to do if I want to add a second book, or maybe even more. I’m honestly not sure at the moment.
  6. Keep up better with my thrice-weekly blog posts. I’m doing well at Friday’s book review posts, but I’m slacking with Monday/Wednesday. Understandably so, in these circumstances, but I need to get my work ethic back on the rails.

If you’re still with me through all of that, thank you for your support. I’m not the type to splash my personal life all over the public arena, but the kindness and encouragement I’ve gotten from my readers and fellow authors when I have has been nothing but helpful and heartwarming. So this is me saying, I’ve had my wallow, and I needed it, but now it’s time to get back to work.

I’ll see you lovelies tomorrow with this week’s batch of book reviews.

Writing Homework #10: And Then the Murders Began

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I’ve been seeing a post floating around on Tumblr a lot recently. “Take the first line of a novel, and add And then the murders began.

It leads to some really funny outcomes, as one might expect. Take the first line of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway:

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. And then the murders began.

Or Jane Eyre:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. And then the murders began.

Or one of my most beloved classics, I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith:

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. And then the murders began.

So your writing assignment, this time around, is to grab a few books off your shelf (or look up a list of famous first lines, if you want some classics,) choose a first line, add the bit about the murders, and use it as a prompt for a flash fiction piece. If you end up using a line from a story you know well, you can adapt it to incorporate the murders; or you can just use the two lines as the start of an entirely new story.

I haven’t had the time yet to write my own–still slogging through WWNTR formatting–but expect my version sometime in June. Have fun and keep writing!


Need to get caught up on your assignments?

This Week, I Read… (2017 #19)

57 - Between Shades of Gray

#57 – Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys

I was a child when the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. occurred, and though I remember it happening, it didn’t come with the same fanfare and celebration as the Berlin Wall falling, at least not on American news television. I knew in a vague way that for the countries to have regained their independence from Russia, they must have been independent to begin with, but the fabled Russian Empire was a monolith of the past–surely those countries had been swallowed up long ago?

Not so. I had no idea until I read this that the Baltic countries were annexed during World War II. Blame my history teachers, because their focus was entirely on Germany and Japan–I think Russia was hardly mentioned.

And I certainly had no idea of the atrocities committed. Sepetys writes about one family’s horrific journey with such simple, compelling language that I found the book nearly impossible to put down–if I could have finished it before bed, I would have, but I really did need to get to sleep so I finished it the next morning before work. It’s that gripping, a tale of great sadness that still–somehow–manages to end with a flare of hope and light.

This book is going to stay with me a long time.

58 - Nothing Personal

#58 – Nothing Personal, by Rosalind James

I always have to give props to office romances where the characters actually work, and here, well, they work overtime. Seriously.

But the very nature of this story is its own downfall. The major point of conflict between Rae and Alex is that she’s been assigned to his company as oversight–so for her to end up sleeping with him is bad news for everyone. He knows it, she knows it, and yet, attraction and emotion prove too much and she falls into bed with him anyway.

Honestly, they’re both to blame–her for compromising her position, and him for encouraging a secret office affair–but in the actual moment, it seemed to me that Alex was taking advantage of Rae’s weakened emotional state, because of the stress of her grandmother’s health problems. One can argue that she initiated and he was only trying to comfort her, but really, he knew what was at stake too, and should have been the clear-headed one. (His twin brother Gabe, who I adored in the first book in this series? Never would have done that. He was a stand-up guy through and through.)

I get that Alex is supposed to be the casual ladies’ man, and Rae is the one who changes him for the better because he actually gets emotionally involved, but his redemption isn’t complete as James perhaps intends it to be. I still find him to be a jerk a lot of the time.

And don’t even get me started on the corporate espionage subplot. It started too late in the book to seem like more than an afterthought, and the climax was so obviously a setup for Rae to prove her smarts. Not impressed.

All that being said, I do have the third and final book in the series, and I intend to read it. Hopefully this was just a hiccup in quality.

59 - A View of the Harbour

#59 – A View of the Harbour, by Elizabeth Taylor

This is the most beautifully written book to ever bore me to near-tears.

Let me explain.

Taylor writes with a lyrical style that for some readers might be a bit purple, but to me was elegantly descriptive and brilliantly toned. When the narration steps back from the characters in brief moments of observation, her grasp of the human condition is sharp and witty.

Too bad the characters range from bland to hateful, from irritating to loathsome. Oh, look, it’s a tiny miserable village where everyone is in everyone else’s business. The dying lady harasses her daughters and watches people come and go at her window. A young widow is lonely and tries feebly to reach out to her neighbors but ends up drinking every night instead. A woman carries on an affair with her best friend’s husband while living next door to them. The wife is oblivious–their oldest daughter catches on.

An out-of-town “artist” who hardly ever paints ties everything together and provides a heavy metaphor for the whole book when he finally does paint one view–and guess what, it’s of the harbor! Look how different it looks from the real thing!

Why do serious, literary novels always involve miserable people and adultery? I’m bored.

60 - Collision

#60 – Collision, by Evie Harper

DNF @ 21%, because like its name, this was a train wreck of a story.

First, some technical issues. Nothing screams low-effort like a poorly formatted ebook. My Kindle edition changed font type and size several times over the course of the prologue and the three-and-a-half chapters I read. And the last paragraph of each chapter was in bold, for some reason? I thought it was another glitch at first–heaven only knows how many I’ve had to iron out from my own works when I’m formatting–but it kept happening, so it must be deliberate. To me, bolding the last bit for emphasis seems like the author is trying too hard.

Now, the story issues. The story is told in alternating first-person present-tense narration. I have a personal distaste for present tense works, but I’m willing to set that aside if the story calls for it–I don’t think it does here. And worse, the prologue is set in the past, Slater giving his account of his experiences as a foster child of eleven–but the narrative style is precisely the same as adult Slater, which also ends up being the same as Piper, his love interest. First person narrators need to sound distinct from each other.

Then, there’s the setup. Piper walks into a bar, sees Slater, and pretty much immediately follows him to the men’s bathroom so they can bang. No slut-shaming here, consenting adults and all, but she meets him again the weekend after that, and again, and again. They have four bathroom hookups before he decides to ask her on a real date.

Only then do we find out (at 20% in, a full fifth of the way through the story) what the conflict between our two lovers is.

He hates Child Protective Services because he escaped an abusive foster home, and she’s a CPS agent who went into that line of work because she was also in the system, but never made it past the group-home stage; no one want to adopt her because of her stutter.

Really? Really? How ridiculous is that, that two random people who decide to bone each other weekly for a month in bar bathroom both happen to be former system kids, and they’re perfectly opposed? I’m supposed to believe that?

I gave up when Piper launched into a full chapter of weepy, sentimental backstory about her childhood, because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

61 - Life of Pi

#61 – Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

A book I enjoyed less and less as it went on.

Parts I and II, to me, seem to embody the struggle of two common pieces of writing advice; avoid excessive backstory and don’t let your characters be alone too much. Part I is almost entirely backstory, with a few short chapters of a different POV, that of an interviewer reflecting on his subject, thrown in for context; Part II, the bulk of the book, is Pi on the lifeboat with Richard Parker, the oddly named tiger. (Technically not alone, but certainly lacking for human companionship.)

I enjoyed Part I the most. I loved the gentle exploration of how swimming, religion, and growing up in a zoo shaped Pi into who he was, and how they inadvertently prepared him for his trials at sea. Despite being an atheist myself, I loved how Pi saw no conflict in practicing three religions at once, believing devotedly in all three and seeing the best in each. And as I didn’t know much about Hinduism, I appreciated the brief glimpse into its practices as well.

I got really bored spending chapter after chapter cooped up in the boat with Pi in Part II. I started smelling the whiffs of unreliable narrator early on, and his story only became more and more outlandish, never quite rivaling The Odyssey for audacity, but certainly straining credible suspension of disbelief. At first I was caught up in the minutiae of survival just as Pi was (if you look at my own works, I’m sure you can see that’s kind of my jam) but by the end of that section, it was a slog to keep going.

Which echoes the wearying nature of Pi’s journey, of course, but that doesn’t make it pleasant to read.

Part III, despite being the shortest, was the worst test of my patience. The constant back-and-forth between Pi and his interrogators, stripped of all description of place or tone or body language, seemed interminable even though it hardly took up any space at all. And since I knew what was coming–they weren’t going to believe him–the ending lacked impact for me. It doesn’t matter to me whether the outrageous tale I read was true, or whether Pi built it upon the much more plausible version he told under scrutiny, the one including the cook and the sailor and his mother. I truly don’t care. And since apparently that’s the end of the book, where I’m supposed to care…? I was just disappointed.

I do believe, though, if the fantastic version of the story is supposed to be the true one, that Richard Parker leapt off into the jungle without a goodbye. Tigers don’t strike me as overly sentimental creatures.