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Customer Review

2.0 out of 5 stars Gimmicks 10, story 2, 21 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Loteria (Hardcover)
I am not one of those who share the glowing reviews of this debut novel by an author who has won a Fellowship for his fiction writing, e.g. "stellar" or "intriguing" debut. I am not sure how the Fellowship is awarded, but have discovered it is awarded to certain graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop.

The story follows a deck of cards, Loteria, which is a Mexican game like bingo. The game is not explained in too much detail, partly because the Spanish words and phrases were lost on me. This is the first thing I didn't like about the book - and translations as footnotes or a glossary would have given this book a much wider readership in my opinion.

The second thing that prevented me from giving this book a higher rating were the oblique references to events, using which my powers of imagination and/or deduction could not provide a satisfactory conclusion to the story.

The third aspect was the gimmick of using a pack of cards to tell a story. There wasn't a cohesive narrative to pull the threads together. The characterisation was patchy, e.g. Estrella and the mother remained shadowy characters throughout, and Luz and her father fared little better.
The story lacked page-turning pull for me. It was a story of domestic degeneration, but the twist did little to engage me in the end and I was none the wiser about the outcome for the mother.

I would recommend this book to lovers of literary works who like the author to leave the ending unresolved.
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