Yeah, yeah. So I just finished some truly horrible books. Like, a lot of them. Poisonwood Bible is not a truly horrible book. Sorry, Jeshk0.
Must've been, like, a million. It's been like four months since the last one.
Dude. So. many. books. Like eleven of them.
All horrible. You're an asshole.
No, no! Some of 'em were fuckin' dope! but they weren't recommended by y'all. so they're exempt.
Those are the ground rules.
I think you're just saying that so you don't have to say something nice about anything.
Okay, look - Poisonwood Bible is a vaguely interesting premise that didn't become that interesting a story. Because I've been marinating in CIA shit for the past 5 years, all the Lumumba stuff was kind of interesting -
You were going to say something nice.
Okay. The prose is substantially better than Da Vinci Code, the facts are much better researched than Daniel Suarez' Daemon, and it went quickly. I started Poisonwood because the audiobook I was cranking through finished while I was adjusting the valve lash on the Benelli, and I finished it before I had the airbox back on. Of course, that says more about adjusting the valve lash on a Benelli triple than it does about Barbara Kingsolver.
You suck at nice.
You know what's a good book? Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. Strong female protagonist in WWII against a Nazi spy. There are some bits that don't make sense but you give it a bye because it's just a tight little tale. That's a great book. I also read The Martian by Andy Weir in there because I kept putting off Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. Both of those are great books, even though one is a made-up Robinson Crusoe story and the other one is a statistical analysis masquerading as a book. Poisonwood Bible IS NOT A BAD BOOK. But I grew up in a privileged white enclave in poor Hispanic and Native American Northern New Mexico so White Guilt As Literature is something I was sheep-dipped into twice a year every year from 1st grade through graduation.
Look, I get it. As a white male I am History's Greatest Oppressor going back to Roman times. I don't understand nobility, I don't understand struggle, and I'm the stock asshole in every tale involving women or minorities. That's the cross I bear for having the best job prospects, the least racism, the position of highest privilege and the assurance that unless something has gone horribly wrong, things are going to work out for me by design. I'm definitely benefitting most from this exchange.
But as "white people suck" stories go, Poisonwood Bible isn't even particularly well-organized. I oughtta know, authors have been enumerating my suckitude since Weekly Reader was 4 pages long. In general, I was instructed by bored, overeducated liberal women married to particle physicists from the East Coast who came to Los Alamos to design nuclear weapons and feel bad about it. As such, every curriculum involved at least two books about how the White Man was so horrible to the native residents of Northern New Mexico because apparently feeling guilty for white oppression at the age of ten was the panacea your average Vassar grad needs.
A screenwriter would end Poisonwood Bible about half-way in. The rest of the book is just sort of flailing. A screenwriter would also have to do something about the structure, because it's organized into "books" wherein the mom gives up a useless excuse for why her daughters were forced to suffer hardships in the previous book, then the daughters suffer hardships for the next book. It's tiresome. Guilt does not equal wisdom and suffering does not equal experience.
None of the characters are real, either. You get no sense that their motivations come from a human place. They are required to go through certain motions in order to illustrate the point that Kingsolver wants to make and internal power is detrimental to these actions.
Yeah, there's some lyrical writing. I'd call it purple prose. If you like palindromes, Ada's great. (if palindromes bug the shit out of you, Ada grates.) For those of you longing to have your writing interspersed with Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams, this is the book for you. For those of of you who can't stand either, strap in.
Maybe you should, just, you know, stop.
Maybe I should. Except East of Eden was a great book. American Gods was a lost opportunity, but it could have been a great book. Thinking Fast and Slow was worth reading even if it made me mad. Contrary to what I've written above, I didn't hate Poisonwood Bible. It's just... eh.
eh. Oprah's Book Club, yo.
And don't I know it. Look - yes, the CIA was fucking horrible to the Congo. But the CIA is horrible to EVERYONE that isn't a privileged white male, and even they often get the shaft. There are better Africa books. There are better CIA books. There are better sister books. There are better preacher books. Are there better "sisters in africa with a preacher and the CIA" books? Dunno. Maybe there aren't.
Hey, I read it. I don't regret reading it. I appreciate the suggestion. But it wasn't my thing.
Well, I've got an epub of Godel Escher Bach staring up at me from my Dropbox. But I'm also kind of burned out on things I have to read. Right now I'm cranking through Sagan's Contact and re-reading Stephen King's On Writing.
It might be GEB. It might be Name of the Rose. It might be Confederacy of Dunces. It also might be a while. We'll see.