Fiction slogging

I'm doing my best, but Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes isn't going well. I enjoyed and respected her Shipping News, B.R. Myers' A Reader's Manifesto be damned, especially but not exclusively for the complicated and believable evolution of Quoyle (who had nothing in common with the ... well, let's just say the well-intentioned Kevin Spacey). Accordion Crimes isn't doing much for me.

It's like The Red Violin in print and superimposed on the history of immigration to and racial tension in America, but I'm only guessing: I'm not couth (spellcheck?-ed. stet, damn you, stet!-auth.) enough to have seen The Red Violin. Some colourful characters in a historically accurate time and place, with an accordion as part of the plot, and then someone dies: chapter break!

There are several good novels here, but the one these pieces find themselves in doesn't live up to any one of the phantoms they're drawn from. (I'm glad that someone out there agrees with me, I see!)

On the other hand, Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is going swimmingly. I picked it off the table this morning to scan it, since I borrowed it from a friend yesterday, and suddenly I'm in the fourth chapter and unable to resist sharing anecdotes with everyone I meet. A real treat.

Oddly, though, another blogger out there read these books at the same time two years ago. Plus ca change.


fiona-h said…
I read an amusing review of Blink when it first came out. I believe it was in The Globe and Mail. The reviewer said (paraphrasing): "My first impression was that this book was really excellent, but on reflection I realized that I was wrong."


I liked it tho. Even on reflection.
richard said…
I think I understand the Globe reviewer's perspective (without having read the review), but I feel like you.

Blink is full of terrific anecdotes and provoking, suggestive ideas, but it's presented (packaged?) like a self-help book, and there's absolutely no way that it can provide that much assistance. It suggests some approaches, maybe, but that's the most it can do without our studying, for example, the thousands of facial expressions we can make.

I stopped before the conclusion this morning, so I can slow things down a bit. Very enjoyable, but it keeps stopping before I want it to.

I mean, for example, if black students do worse on exams after being asked to specify their race, why on EARTH wouldn't Kingwell remark on the need to reconfigure standardized exam so demographic info was collected AFTER the testing?!?!
fiona-h said…
Better late than never to make this comment:

I LOVED The Shipping News, Quoyle in particular (I totally agree with you, by the way, that the movie was a disappointment and Spacey was All Wrong). I did not like Accordian Crimes. Can't remember why, exactly.
richard said…
Yes, I'm nervous to go back to The Shipping News now, in case I realize my previous idiocy! Quoyle was so compelling. I could sort of imagine him being played by the lead singer in The Commitments, perhaps....

I've found my stride with Accordion Crimes now that we've spent time with French, Mexican, and black immigrants (maybe I just didn't like the sections about Italians and Germans?), but it's not at all a secure connection. Not at ALL.

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