Commenter CJ stopped by the other day and said that she had found an old mutual bloggy friend of ours, Wendy, who is blogging again, which I had not known, and was glad to find. Then my friend Theresa from My Fairbanks Life stopped by, and it looks like she’s blogging again. Yay to both! I gotta get motivated and back into it myself. Soon. After I fix my sidebar, I guess, and fill it in with all of your blogs again. In CJ’s comment, she said she liked my book reviews, so in her honor, here’s my review of my most recent read, The Lost Dog, by Michelle de Kretser, which I picked up on a whim whilst browsing the bookstore, and read for the ‘Read’N’Review challenge‘, hosted by the lovely MizB.
“At some point in the previous decade, consumption had turned gluttonous. There was more stuff around. More people were buying it. Democracy had become a giant factory outlet. It was as if endless wealth had been converted by a malicious spell into endless want. Sometimes, late on a weekend afternoon, Tom would head to a café on Bridge Road. People crowded the pavements, shopping gathering up all classes and kinds in its dreamy pull. Isolated, spotlighted, displayed in glass niches, everyday objects took on fetishistic power, a vase or a pair of shoes acquiring the aura once enjoyed by religious icons. Such things could mean whatever people needed. They were repositories of dreams. Over espresso and the papers, Tom observed teh spending that made the getting bearable: a last high-kicking performance on the public stage before the curtain of work came down.”
Tom is an academic writing a book about Henry James. He is an immigrant to Australia, having moved there from his native India as a child. He has fallen in love (or at least strong like) with a local artist, who is famous locally not only for her art (she creates paintings, takes their picture, displays the pictures, and destroys the paintings), but also for the fact that her husband disappeared 20 something years ago, and the mystery of whether he died, whether she killed him, or whether he simply ran away, is very much unsolved. Tom’s mother is an elderly woman, living with her sister, who has gotten to the point where she can no longer control her bowels, and is afraid that this will mean she has to go and live in an old folks home. And, Tom has lost his dog in the Australian bush.
While Tom is searching for his missing dog, he is also ruminating on his book, on his career, on the artist, and on his mother. The search for the dog is but the barest framework for the novel, which has much more to do with his search for truth in himself and in those around him. The writing was at times gorgeous, and the last 50 or 60 pages were engrossing.
The rest of the book, however, I found boring as hell. Yes, beautifully written, but I didn’t care much about Tom, and I cared much less about the artist, the mother, the aunt. I cared a bit for the dog. I think I stuck around to find out about whether he would find his dog more than because I cared about the mother, or if we would find answers to the mystery with the artist and her disappeared husband. I cannot say I would recommend this book, though one of the reviews that I read on Amazon (they almost all hated it, sadly) said that while she hated this book, she adored The Hamilton Case, another book by the same author. Because the writing was so lovely, I may have to give that one a chance. It reminded me a bit of Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt, which I also pretty much was bored to tears by, except for the last 80 to 100 pages. And Byatt writes about what a gripping tale this one is. So I guess they have a common style, one which clearly doesn’t engage me.