Monday, April 28, 2008

The House of Widows, Askold Melnyczuk, 255 pages

James Pak witnesses his father's suicide and then travels throughout Europe to discover why his father did it. Melnyczuk shifts time periods and narrators throughout so you have to really concentrate on the text in order to determine if the chapter in question is set in 1989, 1949, 1969, 2004, or 1936 (and let's not get into whether you are in New England, Oxford, Austria, or near Chernobyl or which narrator it is). While hard to get into at first, the book grows on you, but the main narrator, James, is rather uninteresting. When the book switches back to him for the final few chapters, it gets boring, and the ending is a disappointment. Intersting, but not satisfying.

Genre: Fiction
Subgenre: Historical fiction/Family Trauma Fiction
Location: New England, Oxford, Austria, Russia
Cliches: Son with troubled relationship with father, who became depressed alcoholic after mysterious tragedy, Heathcliff Syndrome, One Night Stand = Love of Lifetime
Good Plane and/or waiting in line Reading: No, you really need to concentrate on text to be able to keep up--and some sections require rereading
Good Enough Reading to Keep You Distracted From Plane Movie: Yes, as long as there are no kids or jerks distracting you.
Good Enough Plane Reading to Distract You From Kids or Jerks on Plane: No
Can read when depressed and/or when winter: No

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