Thursday, October 19, 2017

Impossible Views of the World

Title:  Impossible Views of the World
Author:  Lucy Ives
Publication Information:  Penguin Pres. 2017. 304 pages.
ISBN:  0735221537 / 978-0735221536

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The day Paul Coral vanished, it snowed."

Favorite Quote:  "I was just a human-shaped supply of erudition and random bits of data that kept the paintings from falling off the walls."

My favorite part of this book is the wonderful title and cover. In fact, that was my primary reason for requesting this book. Beyond that, I am not entirely sure what to make of the story.

The book is marketed as a mystery centered around an ancient map and set in a New York museum. The setting and premise are intriguing; this was my my other reason for requesting the book. A historic museum, a missing person, and a ancient map provide the perfect set up for mystery and adventure. Unfortunately, the mystery does not really go anywhere. I am left at the end wondering what the point was. I persevere through the entire book hoping for an epiphany or a resolution but one really does not come. Having read the entire thing, I am not sure I could exactly describe the characters or what the story was really about.

In the middle of this "adventure" is the personal story of the main character Stella Krakus. She has a soon to be ex-husband who antagonizes her. She has a mother who is an icon in her own right and Stella does not measure up. She has a boss who has his own agenda. Overall, Stella, or at least her life, is cracking up. Unfortunately, for all her misfortunes, Stella's character as the narrator falls prey to the tone of the book. She becomes a relatively annoying heroine.

At the root of this sadly is the language and narrative style of this book. I am a lover of words and language, but I am also a believer that you choose your words to suit your message. In this book, for me, the writing and the language gets in the way of the story. Big words and complex language seems to be used not for the story but rather for the sake of language itself. The writing style and word choice gives the entire book a pretentious feel and leaves me as a reader disengaged from the story.

For example, the main character describes her condition as follows:  "This, to be honest, made me feel like a microbe that was living under the shoe of a cockroach that was living under the sink of two of the most doltish frat boys you'd ever want to meet on a Billyburg corner at midnight midvape who'd just moved in together to explore heir dreams of becoming middle managers." What? I think that translates simply to the fact that she feels undervalued in her job. Yes? No? Maybe? Who knows.

What compounds this feeling is the fact that almost the entire book is a first person narration with very little dialogue or interaction to break up the style of storytelling. Another example towards the very beginning of the book:  "I have modes of being that are less than elegant ... On this particular morning, I assumed the demeanor of a roach on its way back to its nest through a lighted kitchen." What is with the roach motif? Very little in the book breaks up this narrative style, ultimately leading to a disappointing reading experience.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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