I like to think I know what death is.
There’s a kind of story that is elevated by the surroundings its in. Even though this is the case in Sing, Unburied, Sing, it isn’t always saved by those surroundings. The story is dark and muddy, and there’s no air bubbles to be found in this morass.
Here’s a small, hurting family in the societal backgrounds of the USA. They hurt because of deaths past and future, addictions and crimes. Jojo is the young teenager who the story evolves around, but his drug addicted mother gets to share her angle as well.
If there’s not enough unhappiness around these two, death starts interfering with the living, and the story starts to feel like something the ancient Greeks would use as an example for hell. No matter what you do, misery will follow.
I’m slightly disgruntled because of having read this. Not because it’s badly written or a sloppy story, solely because it’s just full of disgruntlement, big and small. You could read it for the slice of depressing life, but don’t expect any uplifting experience.
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward, Scribner 2017
Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that still ran well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of the town, so he decided to take the last bus of the night.
From time to time you need a Stephen King novel. And because I can never remember where I am in the Dark Tower series, I like to try one of his stand alones.
Of course there’s a retired detective who is overweight and alone and miserable, that’s how a detective works. There’s that one unsolved case as well. But this is Stephen King, so you get a look inside of the head of the perk/perp, you get fleshed-out side characters and a peek into the look of police work (lots of note blocks).
No lack of gruesome images and terrifying cliffhangers either. Mr Mercedes demands your time, and you will race (hah) through the story, pretty sure but not completely about how it will end this time.
Just don’t read this before bed. Or visiting a concert.
Mr Mercedes, Stephen King, Scribner 2014
At dust they pour from the sky.
Usually I’m not very fast with reading books from the ongoing year, definitely not those that are on lists and are nominated for prizes. They’re (too) popular in the library and the standardized blurb doesn’t really tickle me anyway.
But this was a present. And you don’t neglect a gifted book.
All The Light We Cannot See starts out as a pretty standard, nicely written, World War II story. There are good people on both sides, there are bad people on both sides.This time the main characters are a blind, French girl and a German, orphaned boy. They both experience things and grow up while the war grows worse.
The addition of a MacGuffin turn Anthony Doerr’s wonderful visuals and sweet, rounded characters, sadly enough, into something flat. Suddenly the book turns into Indiana Jones in Europe, instead of carrying on with the world-building and filling out backgrounds.
There’s nothing wrong with All The Light We Cannot See, but it could have been something epic instead of this mix-up.
All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, Scribner 2014