3 Comments

  1. “Emotional heft of a Lifetime Television movie.” Snap! I haven’t read this one, but I’d agree about Patchett in general. I read one of her books and loathed it then picked up Bel Canto because it had received so much praise and had a hard time finishing it because my jaw was permanently dropped in wonder that this was the novel people were touting.

    Obviously, she gives her audience something they want, but it’s high-falutin’ melodrama to this gal.

    I was interested in this sentence: “Perhaps verisimilitude, a fundamental narrative staple, might be too much to ask for here.”

    What do you mean here? Staple would indicate a basic building block, but for someone whose tastes are as catholic as yours I’m surprised you’d make it. What about writers like Kundera or Marquez, or Kevin Brockmeir, or even much of David Mitchell?

    That sentence sounds like something James Woods would write, not Ed Champion. Or maybe I’m reading too much weight into it?

  2. May: A fair question.

    Brian Francis Slattery’s SPACEMAN BLUES exhibits verisimilitude, despite having an underground city underneath New York and several other crazy inventions. Rupert Thomson’s DIVIDED KINGDOM does too, despite a premise involving the United Kingdom being split up into four quarters arranged to the four humors. Murakami, David Mitchell, the like. I assure you — and I think some of my other reviews have attested to this — that my own definition of “verisimilitude” is quite liberal. I’m happy to believe in a book, if there are enough factors that are reasonably convincing. In RUN’s case, I didn’t recognize any world even remotely close to this one. And I’m certainly not the only person to have expressed this.

  3. I think I get what you’re saying. I feel like verisimilitude is maybe an insufficient word as it’s now understood, i.e., “real,” but I appreciate the clarification.

    Patchett’s novels are like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Contrived situations designed as emotion generators. For some reason I forgive it in my television (or I’m more likely to forgive it, the Grey’s spinoff, Private Practice is unforgivable), but in my reading I expect more.

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