Jun. 17th, 2013

aslant: (elle s'amuse)
21. The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner

Here is my succinct and oblique review: this book didn't add up. It had its pleasures, and Kushner is practicing mastercraft here, but the plot wasn't enough for it to add up, in the end, to something greater.

22. Z, Therese Anne Fowler

Another case of not adding up to much. There was some cringeworthy tell-not-show going on in a few places, and I just don't think Fowler ever really got the reader to understand what drives Zelda Fitzgerald, or why her journey goes from socialite flapper to possibly insane person. I never got a sense of momentum from being inside Zelda's head, did she derive joy from being kind of crazy at parties? Unclear. She would just do crazy things -- did she like attention? Was it a thrill? It was completely silent, in the text. Hemingway was supposed to be a terrible villain driving one part of the plot, but instead he was just kind of...meh. The same with the marital conflicts -- they were there, and present, and sometimes were vivid, but other times just kind of fell flat. This book was most moving for me when it got to her later troubles and you saw the horrors of "the only true sanity for a woman is to accept her husband's dominion" 1920s brainwashing "psychology." There seemed to be a late theme that Fowler could have developed better -- the idea of being a person who tries and tries to be someone, and doesn't quite manage it, due to when and how she lived, and maybe she just wasn't that great a painter or writer -- but this revelation came late and again, didn't add up to what it could have been. In a few places I just plain didn't trust the author as a credible historian of this era, despite the namedropping and Big Historical Moment mentions that occur tediously throughout. Don't read this book, why are we even talking about it anymore?


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