Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A brief review of a book briefly viewed

Blame Twitter, which channelled plugs for Christopher Boucher's How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive as if publisher Melville House were sending secret codes to start another Middle Eastern grassroots uprising. I ordered the book from the library. I read some of it.

I cannot gain traction in this book. It lacks characters and a plot. Aristotle thinks those are important. He also thinks light things fall more slowly than heavy things, but that's because he was afraid that if they didn't, his world would be far-too-rocked. History has proven him right about the plot/character thing. Likewise the diction-and-thought thing. I can do without "spectacle" and "singing" in my novels, though sometimes those make for nice additions.

The author says some funny things and has an amusing way of giving you completely the wrong word for something. He also gives people "kennings" like Chest of Drawers (a guy he knew) and The Lady from the Land of Beans (a former lover). The book reads like an essay from McSweeney's that should have ended after maybe 500 words. That would have been good. One thousand tops. After that, you're reading words, words, words and nothing else. The eyes move like feet upon a treadmill. And it's not even one of those inclined treadmills or one that features a change-of-pace setting. Perhaps later all of this materializes into some beautiful, intact vision, like a Tralfamadorian novel, but it's too insistently incoherent for that. It does seem to be merely a scam.

Done. Moving on.

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