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SkinnyDippingIntoBooks

Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.

 

I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,


Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.


time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.


How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.


Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

shocking imperfection

Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel - S. J. Watson


and the award goes to

Before I Go To Sleep is a novel by S.J Watson that chronicles the life of Christine after a tragic accident. He accident left her with a memory loss disorder that hinders her short term memory, primarily through the failure to integrate important memories into her long term memory 'bank'. The catalyst for this loss is, as the title suggests, sleep. I am pretty sure Watson got her inspiration from this woman.

We are presented at first with a frightened and paranoid narrator, who, without the help of her memories is confronted with a new, blank slate every day. her husband attempts to help her maintain important memories by way of verbal communication, photographs on the bathroom mirror, a scrap book, as well as maintaining the same schedule and routine; or as familiar as possible.

As the book pushes forward we find out that she is seeing a doctor, who recommends that she write her memories, thoughts, and emotions in a journal. At this point we bear witness to the first of many unreliable characters. What is difficult to understand from a reader's perspective is the complete deficit of 'doctoring' that Dr. Nash does. In fact, besides regurgitating memory after memory (as her husband does) and suggesting that she write in a journal, he does nothing else, at least nothing constructive. His other contributions are befriending Christine and crossing boundaries (both by meeting her at home and not an office, and with his nonprofessional social behaviors). In the end i was left with a "whattt?" feeling. of course he is young and cute, so maybe he skirted through med school using physical, rather than intellectual gifts. Dialog was also flat and trite.

Both husband and Dr disagree on treatment, leaving this disruption between both 'resources—a term used to denote the powerful influence over Christine.

Enter, the journal. This nifty little device is introduced mid book or somewhere near. its creative, i must admit, and it did support the primary trend of the book, as well as character development; in theory. However, while it worked initially i began to feel that the author was to much of a novice to fully understand how, when, etc to employ it, and to what degree (length) she should have used it. granted it tied the story line together nicely. Halfway Thoughts of Swamplandia—both in an OMFG get to the point and visually—surfaced and i felt i was dredging unsuccessfully through Florida's clogged and overgrown marshes. 'Ugh' i said outloud (much to the dismay of boyfriend who WAS sleeping at the time).

The arrival of our unreliable Claire. The much missed and coveted 'best friend', who through her lackluster performance seemed less like a friend and more like *Karen Smith; not really a heartless bitch, but when encouraged talks shit behind your back, then tells you 'oh i just adore those kiki Ballet flats" and as you leave she turns to Regina and says 'eww did you see that color. it looks like cafeteria food thrown up'. Oh but Watson, you did, however haphazardly, clean up that at the end, didnt you? (along with everything else). As a result of your clean up job—which most resembled a criminal on CSI who thinks that bleach will erase blood—you just spread an already messy situation around with a wet sponge. Dear GOD WATSON, did you not notice that this left other things unresolved? It introduced characters that seemed more like paper cut out people rather than realistic representations? It created plot shifts that resembled the result of a art project for two year olds where the teacher asked them to stay in the lines? This was the start that led to the demise of your should be wonderful novel.

Enter goulash soup: While the middle seemed sluggish, out of pace with the previous sections (the first portion i love... ill get to that), this section seemed like a grad student hopped up on adderall. It was so out of pace with the neat and tidy beginning, and the slow chocked middle, that i found myself highlighting—33 times in all—paragraphs. Notes include"

"Wait, what the fuck?" "this is totally out of character 4 this person" "wouldnt she....?" "wait where did this come from" "ugh" "fuck me" "WTF?"

you can see towards the end that i got a bit lazy. Characters acted in a manner that contradicted their previous behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and perception. Events happened, but seemed rushed, not formulated well, or otherwise did not have leading sentences preparing the reader. The entire last 30 pages seemed to drag on, and speed up all at once. The focus on unnecessary details was outright painful to experience. That final scene so poorly rendered i recalled my failed attempts to write fiction in high school and i was probably high when i wrote those pages. Something was amiss. Absent was our Christine, delusional, paranoid, and broken. In her place was a broken, conflicted, victim. While the former list may not suggest it, there was a small spark of confidence, or at least strength that ran through the earlier portions of the book. I feel that Watson struggled with the shift, both in plot and therefore in characters, and fell short to capture necessary components that would make this ending more believable. Had she transitioned it more slowly, or maintaining the fast pace of the ending, and while doing so imbedded a deeper internal dialog explaining shifts in both orientation and perception, i would have more thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alas, she failed to do this, leaving in its place a novel that felt more like a draft than a completed work.

The premise is here, babe, but yah gotta weed out the unnecessary portions and in their place sink your teeth on logical, rational, and well developed dialog, plot shifts, and substance. Keep it believable too.




So what did i expect? Well, visually I recalled Claire Fishers artwork
Seen above. A frazzled, chunky, distorted reconstruction of Christine's former self, and a re-capturing of the accident that lead to her current situation. Think 60 minutes. you think you have an idea what will happen, but as the time ticks, the story twists and becomes more complex but remains rational and believable. It started off that way. the story was captivating. the paranoia well crafted. The internal dialog nicely crafted.


This could have easily been approached by introducing different perspectives,though it may not have worked well here. coulda worked if, maybe if it was interlaced with other approaches, or more thoroughly developing secondary characters. In the end, however, this book did not provide a complex narrative, nor did it develop any characters to the degree needed to delivery what was promised. No makeshift version of Christine developed in the last pages. No gathering of the pieces, and glue used to semi reconstruct her life. In fact the author seemed to rush towards a conclusion that would tidy up and delivery a nice little package, avoiding the shock porn stereotype, and falling to the knees of a wider readership, rather than perfecting the story and rendering a book that may only find itself in the hands of a limited, but still large, group of readers. I felt she was not writing to write, for the experience, the love, the joy, but writing to complete a book. Money money money... To simply get it done. I think Watson will learn, though that you dont have to give your readers a complete ending if thats the direction the book is headed, nor do you need to write a hasty conclusion. There is no need for a warm and cozy ending. give me raw, unrelenting, heart breaking, unhollywood sorrow, pain, and anguish. be bold. Don't submit yourself to the status quo Watson, thats been done, her name is Gillian Flynn.



*



Initial comments via phone post read before i went sleep: Complete rubbish. Totally predictable, lackluster, uncreative dribble. In the same boiling pot with Flynn and 50 shades of gray. Perpetuating stigmas on women and reinforcing cultural roles. Tanked completely at 60 percent. At that point you knew what was going to happen, or had a fairly good idea. The whole journal sections was haphazardly constructed, convoluted, and poorly executed.

I'll work on a more proper review. These serve as notes so that tomorrow I know more clearly of the feelings I had tonight..
Just like our poorly developed Christine.