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Chance's Take on Books

I'm a novelist who loves to read and discuss all things word-bound.

Currently reading

Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style
Virginia Tufte
The Chicago Manual of Style
John Grossman, Margaret D. Mahan
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
Steve Earle
Lightland: A Soul's Journey - Kenny Kemp The first section about K'tanu's life was interesting and turned out to be the best material in the novel. My trouble began in the second section which zooms to a futuristic time and introduces Chris, an anthropologist, along with clumps of researched information that should have been edited out, and, a strange author intrusion describing ludicrous fiction and attributing it to the ACLU. That bit of prose read like pot-shot, revenge-oriented fiction. Worse--it was out-of-the-blue and somewhat jarring--and not in a good way. Because the author chose to call out the ACLU, a real organization with real accomplishments, the result was to trigger my reader 'propaganda ahead' alert.

I put that behind me in hope of getting on with the story. Unfortunately, the writing felt clunky (uninteresting vocabulary and simplistic descriptions without the magic of Hemmingway) and the characters spoke and moved like puppets being set up to further the author's agenda. Now, I don't have an issue with agendas--we all have them, but opinions and speeches have to feel organic. At one point, a character says, "All intelligent people believe in God." Fine. A character can say that, but time after time, I saw the author's hand in the puppet moving the character's mouth. The effect, the dream of the story, was lost for me, and I skimmed. And skimmed. Too much falling into arms and weeping, dull "I love you" dialogue. Unexciting chase scenes. Finally, I sensed that the entire story was to further an agenda about faith and cloning that was simplistic, one-sided, and without any true persuasive insights. Smart characters 'got it' while the evil ones didn't. The world was drawn in a way to allow the agenda to be right. Fiction should be much more interesting than that.

I will stop here because the novel made me grumpy and I won't inflict that on you. I don't mind disagreeing with an author, but the story, prose, and characters need to be more polished to make the journey, or debate, worthwhile. My apologies to Mr. Kemp, but I didn't like this novel.