Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kellerman's Bones, Flynn's Knife, and Wiseman's Crackpot

I wonder if I'm doomed to keep apologizing for cursory posts here -- I do hope that, once I've got these two conferences behind me, I'll be able to be a bit more expansive here, or at least a more frequent poster, but that won't be 'til the end of June.

Meanwhile, I have done a bit of reading, including the latest paperback by Jonathan Kellerman, Bones. Ho-hum, yawn, snore . . . oh, sorry, were you saying something? These are always fairly credibly written, but the characters aren't developing appreciably. Even the little French bulldog, Blanche, is a snooze here, and I'd rather enjoyed the sketch of her in the last book. The set-up has become too predictable in this series, sadly, with there inevitably being an episode in which "the good guys" are in physical danger in the second or third-to last chapter, but, of course, always emerge victorious by the end. The "bad guys" haven't been interesting or even particularly convincing for several years. When Kellerman gets it all working, his novels really entertain, but there have been a number of ho-hums in the last few years and I'll think twice about bothering next time.

I'm still dipping in and out of The Sharper your Knife, the Less You Cry and enjoying it very much, especially since it's set in Paris and I'm getting ready to head there in a few weeks.

And I just finished Adele Wiseman's The Crackpot after picking up a New Canadian Library secondhand edition for $3.00. Such a bargain for this novel which I should have read years ago. How do these classics slip away from us? After all, I'm supposedly a Canadianist and have done all that required reading through coursework, comps, etc. Written in the 1970's, set during the 1930's and 1940's primarily among Winnipeg's Jewish community, the novel creates a character who cannot easily be described. Born to a blind father and crippled mother who were married to save their Old World village from a pogrom, Hoda grows up fat -- cherished at home but ridiculed everywhere else. The solution she finds to keeping her and her father from poverty after her mother dies -- gradually becoming her community's prostitute after an accidental beginning -- invites the reader to view her as pathetic, at first, but her acceptance of what life hands her, her perseverance and defiance and, especially, her determination to enjoy what's possible to enjoy make this, incredibly, a stunningly redemptive and inspiring book. Without spoiling a central element of the plot, I will just say that Hoda's story has Biblical proportions and with Danile's blindness and what happens at a central point, Greek tragedy is also suggested. For some, then, the ending might seem too convenient, even banal, yet I found it congruent with Hoda's overall approach, her ability to "block[ ] life's kicks and [try] to catch a glimpse of life's butterflies."

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