Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Rain Song" by Alice J. Wisler

I want a book to blow me away. I want a book to make me dig. I want flawless writing with surprising combinations of words and thoughts. I want something to mull over for days afterwards.

Rain Song was not what I wanted.

Ever read a book where you wish you could kick every single character in the head because they're so stupid or incredibly unrealistic or they have the annoying habit of unnecessarily stating the obvious? No? Well, I would say you should read this book so you can commiserate with me, but I know you have better things to do.

The main character is like a wire coat-hanger stretched into the shape of a stick figure with a few quirks hung on it: she eats pineapple chutney, drinks ginger tea, wipes her mouth on a linen napkin, has a few phobias, buries all her problems under ice cream and chews her thumbnails. There's nothing else to her. She's not even a weakly convincing semblance of a real human. What's there is just an empty shell.

I was annoyed with Coat-Hanger Girl from the very beginning. Nicole is supposed to be thirty-one years old, but she sounds more like twelve. "I know nothing about marriage, since I've never been married." Even unmarried people know things about marriage. At the very least, they think they do. "I would like to be married, I think. But . . . my fish and I are doing quite well without a human male mate." All I could think was, someone please kill me now! But no one did, and I still had 280 pages to go.

I may blaspheme by saying so, but this book's plot has vague similarities to Kazuo Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans (a brief childhood in Asia, mysteries left behind, a return to uncover the truth). When I say vague I mean distant, miniscule and nearly unrecognizable. The execution of the two novels couldn't be more different. It's like comparing apples to oranges when apples are greatness and oranges are mediocrity.

The last time I saw Lydia, one of my Book Club girls, she told me she unintentionally finished this book early. (We usually like to read the book of the month close to the time of our meeting so it's fresh in our minds for discussion). She kept reading and waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever did, and then all of a sudden it was over. And now I know exactly what she meant.

Gosh, I'm awful. I really hope Ms. Wisler never reads this post. But, just in case, here is my disclaimer: I am a mean, mean person and I guess I'm just not in the right demographic for this book. And, hey, look on the bright side--everything in the book was spelled correctly!

So. Another Book Club selection bites the dust. Or just bites. The best part about this book was knowing we'll be discussing it over sushi. Good thing I have great expectations for next month's book.


Lesa said...

You are a hoot! I like all the laughing when we meet and I like all the long distance laughing!

Sorry the book turned out to be a dud. You did raise the bar awfully high though.. poor little book. ;o)

Kathy said...

Yeah, I'm a tough crowd. ;)

Kristi said...

I hate one dimensional characters. Blech! Sorry this one didn't work for you. I hate when I don't like a book club selection because I feel obligated to finish it even if it's crap.

Kathy said...

I will usually finish a book no matter what--even if it has me tearing out my hair. Well, I guess I've never literally torn out my hair but I'm sure you know the figurative feeling.