Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Spooky Troutmans: A Mash-Up Review

So, I finished Spook Country over a month ago but couldn't bring myself to write a review. On the positive side, it helped me get to get to sleep quite quickly and I felt like a speed reader because I could blast through the three page chapters in no time. Overall, though, I have to give it a giant thumbs down/wag of the finger. It was too long and too slow and ultimately terribly unsatisfying. Gibson seemed to be experimenting with narrative and perhaps subverting the reader's expectations, but he needs to further refine this approach. One broasted potato out of five.

I enjoyed Miriam Toews's The Flying Troutmans just as much as I liked her previous books. Her ability to combine humour with the small tragedies of ordinary lives is remarkable and she creates rounded, believable characters. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending - Hattie's decision to go back to Min with Thebes seems naive and the family's desperate need to create and maintain a relationship with Min will, it seems, only cause them further pain. I think Min is far more dangerous to those around her than anyone, except perhaps for Logan, is willing to admit. I suspect that Min was the cause of Logan's scar, which casts her and her role as a parent and caregiver in an entirely different light. Of course, the question of whether Min will be alive when Hattie and Thebes return to Winnipeg remains, and the uncertainty regarding the future lends to the sense of realism in the novel. Overall, a good, thought-provoking read.

1 comment:

Dralce said...

I can see the possibilities you present, but I have a hard believing that Min has killed herself. Perhaps I am being naive. At any rate, this story is about Hattie, and to a lesser extent the kids, and not about Min at all, which makes me think that it is inconsequential whether or not she has killed herself - the story remains the same. Hattie learns about herself and that she needs to be able to take care of Min to the best of her ability because up until now she has only felt guilt for leaving Min and going to Paris. She is redeemed in her mind and so are the kids, and they are ready to accept any eventuality upon their return. Actually, I don't believe that's true. I don't think they're prepared to accept the reality that Min may have killed herself. So I guess they're not prepared. Still, they're prepared for almost anything.
Regarding Logan's scar, I think that's a definite possibility. He is defensive about the scar because of his intense loyalty to Min, even though she may have hurt him. He has forgiven her and does not want anyone else to know about lest they judge her for it. Good catch!