I’m way behind. I finished the Arizona book before 2014 and I’m just now getting around to saying something about it. I can tell that the author didn’t do his research on Catholicism or synesthesia, so I can only assume that his research on borders and drug cartels is also sub par. It was violent raunchy and crass. Can I say I was just grossed out? Because a lot of the time I was just grossed out, and not by the gore which there was some but by the middle-aged sex scene in a Marian Shrine. I guess it shouldn’t matter that they were middle-aged because that’s ageism or whatever but it did. I think I expected some reverence or at least some decorum from people of that age.
A lot of necessary Spanish was not translated. Some of it was but if he meant to write this book to be read by people who speak English you’ve got to translate other languages. If I hadn’t been reading on a Kindle there’s a lot I wouldn’t have been able to look up, as I do not have a Spanish-English dictionary tied to my waist. I get that the story jumping back and forth was clever due to the border issue. Honestly though, Tolstoy is a great enough writer to do that and hold my interest. I’ve completely lost interest in Caputo’s characters the moment I leave them and I don’t care if I ever come back to them again. The main guy, whose name escapes me (that says something maybe it was Gil) is barely a character at all. I’m supposed to sympathize with him throughout the story but getting to know him is like surviving on plain graham crackers. The guy’s got less personality than Qui Gon Jin did in the prequitrilogy. (Can we start calling it that?) The guy goes fairly quickly from being somewhat sad to suicidal to going out hunting to having sex with a cowgirl. I just wasn’t following it and frankly I didn’t believe it. I didn’t feel any of his feelings. You could say that I couldn’t understand the loss he’d gone through (from the beginning the reader knows that his wife died in the 9-11 attack) and that seems like a fair thing to say. I can’t imagine the emotions that would ensue after losing someone in a terrorist attack. However, I started reading “The Goldfinch” (even though it’s not on the list..I needed a break) and Donna Tartt is doing her best to make me understand exactly how it feels. The MC’s feelings of loss in Tartt’s writing are thick and palpable. It’s more than a bit depressing. Caputo makes me understand none of it. The storyline worked well. Things came together in a more or less clever resolution that made sense and even made a statement about the far reaching consequences of sin and revenge, but after reading that shrine sex scene, I’ve completely lost any respect I might have otherwise mustered up for this novel. I simply could not care about the fates of any of the characters.
Next on the list is Arkansas. That is “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. The library did not have a print copy, which feels like a travesty but I’ve been listening to it instead of reading it because it’s actually read by Miss Angelou herself. Her prose is rich like poetry and I feel like it’s meant to be heard anyway, besides how can you understand a work better than by letting the author read it to you in their own voice and perhaps more importantly, in their own cadence.