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on 22 November 2000
Scar Tissue is the narrator's account of his mother's death from Alzheimer's disease. His family's genetic disposition for the illness tragically destroys his life. The novel recounts the death of the narrator's father and mother as well as the end of his marriage. The combination of reason and emotion, science and philosophy is perfectly balanced. Ignatieff shows intelligence and wit through the thoughts and insight displayed by the narrator. The format of the narrative is keenly realistic, through memories, speeches, essays, scientific facts and dialog. These elements add interesting branches to the storyline. The characters lag behind in development. The characters Miranda, Jack and the narrator's wife are not fully developed. They do not acquire personalities or complex attitudes. Ignatieff makes up for this shortfall with the drama and truth of the story. The novel captures the pain of an individual and his family as they deal with death. In this book "Ignatieff artfully expresses the intensity and depth of his passion for life and for knowledge" (Nadeau 1). Scar Tissue is a novel that studies the one area in life that everyone must face yet we all try to avoid; death. The reader is shown one way to accept fate and not fear dying.
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on 4 October 2010
I cannot agree in any way that Scar Tissue is 'humourless' - it really does depend what one means by humour, though, because this is not a joke-book, nor does it claim to be!

I fully endorse the four-star review of this title, but believe that my recollection of the book is clear enough to say that this reviewer (and the other positive reviewer, who picks up this question) is missing the point in saying:

'The characters lag behind in development. The characters Miranda, Jack and the narrator's wife are not fully developed.'

My reason is that it is my firm belief that the narrative is so definitely from the narrator's point of view that it is *his* inadequacy in relating to these named others that is deliberately being portrayed here, not the author's inability to have 'developed' those chatacters, if, consistent with what I see as his purpose, he had wanted to.

Of course, I agree that we sometimes want a book to be a different book from what it is (as I did, with Garrison Keillor's Love Me, when it turned 'a bizarre corner' and lost my faith in where it / we was / were going), but I am sure that the characterization (of the narrator) and the lack of it in others is intentional, not a fault.
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on 30 September 1999
To be honest, I read this book quite a few years ago. Up until now, I was unaware it had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize as I had picked it out randomly at a bookshop. Although I wasn't bored whilst reading this, the ending was a rather flattening, draining experience. Yes, it's true that the subject of senility (in this case the male protaganists mother) should never be treated lightly. However, the reader along with the protaganist becomes too bogged down in the book's atmosphere of grief and despair. I was glad to have waded myself out of it.
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on 16 February 2001
This novel, short-listed for the Booker Prize, is about the narrator's relationship with his mother, who is suffering from dementia, and how this affects him and his other relationships. I found it to be revealing and well-written, but at the end felt somewhat disappointed. I think I just found it very difficult to empathise with the central character; he just didn't come alive for me. I also agree with the other reviewer that the other characters were not described in sufficient detail to elicit much of a reaction.
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