Over the twelve years I've been doing this blog, I've rarely done reviews, though that would have been a natural thing to do.
For one thing, to do it well requires more work than I'm willing to do. It doesn't help anyone for me to just say, "I like this" or "I don't like this."
Anyway, my only New Year's resolution was to pick up the pace on reading. I'm trying for one book a week. In doing so, I've also decided to look at each book from a "writerly" point of view. So reviews, of a sort.
I just finished "Jaguar," by T. Jefferson Parker. I already mentioned the "Crocodiles." I finished the book and there were a few other weird things. One of the major characters looks like he's in big trouble, and then the next scene whatever the trouble was seems to have disappeared. That's a good trick. I do think the reader makes the leap usually, fills in the blanks.
I really like how in a regular thriller, the author has managed to stick in a purely supernatural element that is totally intriguing, leaving a backdoor so that the supernatural can be denied, if you wish.
The other thing I noticed is the style is very Hemingway-esqe, though without the deep resonance. Still, it's an attractive style. Very few commas, I also noticed, which is a reminder to me to try to restrain myself.
This "writerly" viewpoint is carrying over to some of the stuff I'm watching, too.
I watched an 6 part French murder mystery called the "Frozen Dead." (I already mentioned that absolutely no one smiles in the entire series...)
It was very effective in atmospherics. Set in the mountains, the cold and wet is conveyed very nicely.
But it was unsatisfying in the end. Could see it coming and sure enough...
The main problem I had with it was the lead character. I think he was supposed to be a tortured fellow, and they added in a subplot about his failing health and his getting his partner's wife pregnant, and that had absolutely nothing to do with anything. Just there to make him interesting, I suppose.
But he was the stupidest detective I've ever seen. Clues go flying over his head, he goes after red-herrings, in fact he spends most of the show running around in a red Fiat. The main bad guy is supposed to be a mastermind, manipulating behind the scenes, and the detective goes and interviews him, asks one question, or makes one statement, and then walks away--multiple times.
Toward the end, he goes to visit the mastermind, who's been established as having contacts inside the prison/hospital, and tells him that the cops are on the way to arrest the final suspect. Of course, the final suspect gets away.
I mean, who does that?
So atmospherics and gloomy characterization and a stupid and meandering plot.
Linda and I watched "Girl on the Train" last night. Besides the fact that there suddenly seem to be hundreds of books that are copying "Gone Girl" this wasn't a world I recognize. Actually, however, I thought the motivations made more sense in this movie, and it was saved by Emily Blunt's all-out performance.
Nothing, however, is more boring to me than middle-class suburban existential crisis. None of these characters were likeable.
Time to pick my third book of the year.
4 days ago