My Challenges (timed)


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My Challenges (perpetual)

100 SHOTS OF SHORT
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CHECKIN’ OFF THE CHEKHOV
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THE COMPLETE BOOKER
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MARTEL-HARPER CHALLENGE
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MODERN LIBRARY'S 100 BEST NOVELS

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NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
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THE PULITZER PROJECT
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TAMMY'S BEYOND BOOKS CHALLENGE

New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
Email: 841/1373

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Title: Snow Falling on Cedars

Author: David Guterson

First Published: 1994

No. of Pages: 460

Synopsis (from B&N): "In 1954 a fisherman from San Piedro Island in Puget Sound is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese-American is charged with his murder. The trial is haunted by memories of what happened to the Japanese residents during World War II when the entire community was sent into exile."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: I found the characterization here generally satisfying. I became emotionally connected to many of the characters, which for me is the key to a good book. The plot held my interest and the descriptions of the surroundings, both natural and manmade, made them come alive in my mind's eye.

While this book was good, it wasn't a perfect novel. There were a few hiccups, usually early in the book, in which the author seemed to be trying too hard to make a point. The physical descriptions of some of the characters struck me as being fairly stereotypical (the strong, virile macho man is of course married to the gorgeous blonde with big boobs ; the lawyer is a transplanted Matlock-type), which kept me from connecting with them more than I did.

I found the author's constant descriptions of the characters sex lives very disconcerting. References would have been bad enough, but several paragraphs about every major character was over the top and often irrevelant to the story. And in those cases in which it was relevant, I felt that the use of sex to make the point was the easy way out. A better novel would have had more finesse and used some other facet of a person's life to get the message across. Or at least used different facets for some of the characters, instead of using sex for all of them. For instance, I found the author's description of one of the characters actual impotence as a clumsy way of showing his fear of intellectual impotence.

I know I've focused more on the negatives than the positives, and I don't want to give the impression of a bad book. I guess the problem is that the good is not great and the bad is not horrible -- it's all just average. Overall, I liked the book but a part of me wishes I'd picked something else.

Challenges: What's in a Name?; Book Awards II

1 comments:

Charley said...

I haven't read this book, but I have a feeling that my reaction might be similar to yours based on the various feedback I've heard/read. That's good for you for sticking with a 460 page book, though. I just cast books aside when I lose interest.