It’s very hard to discuss this book without spoilers, but I will do my best. I will put it out there that if infant loss is a touchy subject for you, this isn’t the book you want and you will have no idea about that from the cover synopsis. Mostly putting it out there because HOW do I keep ACCIDENTALLY reading books about maternal trauma. This is like the fifth time it’s happened to me and it’s just not cool.
I love David Mitchell. I loved Cloud Atlas. I loved Ghostwritten. I was lukewarm on Black Swan Green. Anyhow. Kat left this book in my home and I’ve yet to send it back to her because I’m the worst best friend anyone’s ever had, but I did load it up on my e-reading device thinking that I’d obviously send it back before I’d ever have a chance to read the whole thing, but in addition to being an awful friend, I’m also a very fast reader. So anyhow. High hopes.
Dashed. Thrown into the sea. Lost forever. My hopes.
The sub-plot of the book interested me far, far more than the actual plot – which I found to be dull, monotonous, and also boring. I would have enjoyed the book far more had it been a shorter book merely including an intro, the middle section, and a quick ending. (As is the ending felt rushed like “Oh hey! It’s an ending!” considering how slow the build up was. Some details felt just too damn convenient, others I would have loved more detail on.) Or, if it were much longer and went into more back story and fleshed out the ending. Basically, it felt like the wrong length to me.
Basically, my opinion can be summed up in the phrase I said to my mother on the phone: “Well, I finally finished my horrible book.”
[ I will say that it was beautifully written. I can say that. Mitchell is a g-d with words. I just didn’t care for these characters or this plot. Ok, fine, I liked the monkey. ]
He Reads: Caps For Sale.
Another one that he enjoys primarily for mom’s sound effects. Namely, when the monkeys shake their fingers back at the peddler and say “Tsz, tsz, tsz.” He’s taken to shaking his fingers around and saying “Shhhh, shhh, shhhh” – it took me a second to figure out what he was doing as I never shush him. Then I remembered. The monkeys. Sure enough, soon after he “shh, shhh, shhh”-ed his truck, he handed me the book to read. He doesn’t get into the shaking the hands or stamping the feet (which I also do because what good is reading the book aloud if you don’t do the gestures?) – just the finger shaking.
Between this “shhh”-ing and his relentless reorganization of his books, I’d say he has the foundations of a career in library science. Except for that whole “sitting still” business.