2010-03-23

in-between reads: good and bad, bad, bad

Just back from a (warm, amazing, lovely, awesome) weekend away, and got to some really great reads.

Including this article about Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama making nice. (I know, I'm obsessed.)

Also, this profile of Barack Obama's chief of staff.

I even picked up a book about social media I'm super keen to get into. (And then, yes, I got my reading list for next year. *exciting!*)

And... Yeah, that's about it.

See, I was also reading Elizabeth Hay's collection of short stories, Small Change. And I fricking hated it. In fact, I still have one last short story to read, and I can barely work up the energy....

I know what you might be thinking. "Doesn't she always complain about short story collections because she's not really deep enough to get them?"

Yeah, I see your point. Except I loved Birds of America. And my problem here isn't a lack of depth. At least, I don't think it is. (Although I imagine no one ever really thinks they lack depth...)

Anyway.

All the stories are connected, and I understand how they're connected, since they deal with the same characters again and again.

So why not just link the stories as "chapters" and then tell a single story in a clear, straightforward manner?

I don't know.

Instead, Hay opted to write all the stories in first-person, so the reader can keep trying to guess who is talking. Each new story is like a puzzle. And you spend so much time trying to figure out what the person is saying, whether they are male or female, whether you've already kind of read this story but from a different perspective, that you don't actually get to enjoy any of the stories for what they are.

Of course, without the guessing game, the stories would just be repetitive tales of how one woman (and possibly a second woman with the same name) breaks friendships again and again.

Highlights? Only one:

"This is the tragedy of love. We are most serious with the people we most admire, and the people we most admire love to laugh." p. 128

I know. Barely a highlight. I was in transit when I thought those lines were particularly noteworthy. I'm not so sure now.

Ugh, so negative. If you've not yet read Late Nights on Air, do not let this review stop you. Seriously.

2 comments:

Laura said...

Hm. You appear to have neglected to mention whether or not the short-story collection included any extremely awkward and/or nearly impossibly sex scenes. Yes? Let's assume the answer was yes.

Trish said...

"extremely awkward?" check.