Saturday, September 9, 2017
I felt for all of his characters deeply, and I thought the story was told brilliantly. Particularly striking was his account of a murder from the perspective of a child: how unfamiliar things might sound like familiar things out of context. He has a real sense of how trauma can impact and stay with people - children and adults - for years and years, something that's often missing from thriller & cozy murder mysteries.
Additionally, Sullivan's writing is fun: he uses surprising verbs and adjectives, or uses them in surprising ways. Many sentences have this delightful, lively quality. I'll be looking for more of Sullivan's work.
Friday, September 8, 2017
What is probably most striking is that the multiple POV narration includes extensive 2nd person present ("You do this; you remember that," etc.), which I found distracting rather than engaging. It also seems to me that there are two main story lines, and while you'd expect cross-over points, they really feel independent of each other. The book starts with a fantastic description of the house and a small door nailed shut with 39 iron bolts, but this ultimately felt under-utilized.
I did get more into the book as I kept reading. At its best, I felt the book worked as a metaphor for a family dealing with trauma.
Friday, August 25, 2017
I was hoping for a dead body, but the plot is an "unravel the code" quest: The goal is overblown, and the ultimate answer yawn-inducing. The climax relies on similes. There is no character arc to speak of.
Most of the fun of the book is a series of intriguing environments. Some of these, like the description of the Google campus, I found interesting; some I just found implausible (people in underground caverns wearing black robes under the streets of New York). Maybe someone in my book club will be able to explain the appeal of this book to me. Then again, maybe we're all too old :)
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The whole Mercerism plot-line still confuses me, especially where it weaves in and out of normal reality, and I continue to be confused by what, exactly, Deckard, has learned or gained from the entire experience, particularly when the toad turns out to be electronic. I find Deckard's, well, let's call them 'romantic' relationships for lack of a better word, stilted. At least, they feel forced and don't ring true for me.
I don't want to offend anyone, because I know the original was HUGE (iconic, groundbreaking, and so on). I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of noir as a genre - I am frequently and deeply cynical about life, but it's too easy to wallow there - and if you cut out all the establishing seedy city shots and Harrison Ford drinking, that's possibly a third of the Director's Cut. What struck me this time, oddly, was the pervasive scent of middle-aged white man's fear: tenuously employed in a city that looks more like Shanghai than Los Angeles, in danger of having his neck crushed in the grip of a woman's thighs/crotch, etc.
And then there's the violence, toward women in particular, although Ford and Hauer exchange a lot male-male in the end. The, again I'll use quotes, 'romance' between Deckard and Rachel has an ugly quality (She's saying no, but I know she wants me) that I had forgotten. It's even more ugly, I think, because they've realized she's an android, and so there's an element of her being a machine, less than a person, something he can do whatever he wants to. I think, incidentally, there was a missed opportunity to double-cast Rachel and Pris (although I'd hate to miss Daryl Hannah in this role), because in the book they're the same model, and I liked Deckard's ethical dilemma of being on a mission to kill a copy of the one he's realized he has feeling for.
Mercerism, naturally, is gone from the movie version, as is any sense of reverence for life. If anything, Deckard's world is packed with (ethnically non-white) people. There is no equivalent to the 'spider' scene, and with that, I think we lose what's wrong with these androids and why they might need to be killed, even if it looks a lot like murder.
This is actually something that bothers me about both the book and the movie. The androids, mostly, attack when threatened, but people do that too. Some of them are cruel and violent, but then, some people are too. They've committed murders, but then, lots of humans have done that as well. I'm not sure what it is about being an android that justifies destroying them.
Sunday, July 23, 2017
And then I expected more of a plot (because of this, XYZ happens). The main event, however, is really a long legal trial. I give Sawyer enormous credit because it's a thought-provoking extended legal, philosophical, cutting edge scientific, meditation on the definition of personhood. Overall, however, the book feels . . . curiously heartless to me, lacking the kind of character change and emotional arc I look for.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Wanted to put in a recommendation for this FREE online Coursera course I'm currently taking, led by Chris Goto-Jones of Leiden University.