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Customer Review

2.0 out of 5 stars The beer facts about good aliens?, 15 Dec 2013
This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
I was unable to get more than half-way through this novel. Sentences like "Standish took another long pull of the thick creamy ale from his sixth pint" "So and so took yet further mouthfuls {?} of his first pint of the evening" "Good idea; I'll join you for a pint or three" wink wink - began to grate. Every adult character seemed drunk and in a divorce. The beery wallowing seemed to be the author's principal image of 'real life'. So when I got to the Standish murder mystery chapter on top of this so utterly generic as to destroy any further prospect or hope that it would get better, I really couldn't get the stuff, the endless mouthfuls and the long pulls of creamy ale, the hangovers and the drivings of various cars miraculously incident-free over icy roads afterwards and so forth out of my head. It is supposed to be a mark of enjoyment, having an occasional drink so why wasn't it enjoyable in this book? And why is it irritating in his other books, which however I much prefer to this one? Eric Brown is a good author, I like his Weird Space novels, and look forward to more of them, but his weakness for swigging lager at every available opportunity, but without any noticeable consequences, is for me the fictional equivalent of watching paint dry: a routine brought into the wrong context for a misguided purpose. It is both too predictable and too generic. The descriptions of *processes* that generic novels contain - as in the descriptions of the events of a plot - give the reader access to a generic but often satisfying thriller or sf novel; however what needs to be remembered is that the author cannot or must not describe a moment in these terms. *The* moment. Incidentally where are the women's drinks? where is it in Kethani that "She took a sip from her martini" ? - Nothing of the sensation of drinking is to be described generically. The imparting of *the* sensation of beer drinking has been left out. To compare small things with great, think of how drinking is described in Hemingway. Or if you read the opening page of Salinger's A Perfect Day for Bananafish where the female character smokes. In that opening page, and then for the rest of the story, Salinger gives you every moment of her behaviour; her hand gestures; the lifting and putting down of the ashtray, almost every exhalation: You experience it as a moment.
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