Top critical review
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Worth it, Just
on 19 July 2009
Having read "A Contortionist's Handbook" (a very fine book indeed) I was looking forward to this.
To start with the setup seems similar - first person narration from someone operating 'outside the law' - A flawed 'hero' trying to get their act together. Perhaps love will save them?
But this book then veers away from Clevenger's last, in that the narrator has a very shaky grasp of reality, as opposed to the obsessively detailed and exact 'Contortionist'. This happens to the extent that, for the first half of the book, the narrator's brain is clearly mush. Unfortunately for the reader Clevenger writes about this quite accurately, in that it does smack of having a circular discussion with an acid casualty, in that you can understand what they say but without that emotional experience it is difficult to empathise, thus it gets a bit dull. For the second half (as his thinking begins to get more focused) the reader is left to reflect how the new information colours that given in the first half (symbolism, etc.) while a plot starts to develop. Then, just when our main-man is nearing lucidity, it is all over.
In all it is a frustrating book as it takes so long to get to know enough to form any attachment to the narrator, that by the time you (and he) work out what the story is, it ends. I imagine that this is a very deliberate device but I was not fond of it.
Having said this I would have been far more forgiving had Clevenger's first book not been so great. I will still certainly read his next.