Friday, February 07, 2003

I finished reading two books this week. Gregory McDonald's Skylar in Yankeeland and Susan Minot's Rapture.

Gregory McDonald is known in popular circles for his Fletch books which the movies derived from. In writer's circles, he's known for his succinct and accurate dialogue. He writes mystery novels. In general, my problem with mystery novels is they run entirely on one convention. Either something is stolen or someone is murdered. In his book, Skylar in Yankeeland, we are fortunate to get both. While his dialogue is indeed engaging, I have problems with the plot itself. His dialogue and tone is jovial, which makes some of his plot points disturbing as in the course of 250 pages there is one child molestation, one attempted rape, and one successful rape. These weighty issues are treated poorly in a novel containing such a casual tone.

Susan Minot's novella, Rapture, involves an unusual format. The book begins with a women giving an old lover a blowjob, and ends with his orgasmic completion. The time between contains flashbacks of their volatile and random relationship. Minot is one of my top three favorite authors and I love her minimalist style and succinctness, in addition to her astute and accurate observations about human behavior and the human condition. She also consistently employs the best killer last lines in the business. But in this book she tends to indulge in stream-of-consciousness rambling that becomes monotonous and uneventful. While I enjoy her courageous experiment, the book wallows in intraspective etheral thoughts to a point that cohesive tension is lost.

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