4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Portrait of a Gentle Giant,
This review is from: Border Songs (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not usually one to consider characterization a prime motivation for reading a work of fiction. Generally, I'm more drawn in by atmosphere and lyrical language than transfixed by a particular character. This is likely because not all that many authors seem to be creating fascinating characters lately, or if they are I haven't lucked onto their books. But Border Songs renewed much of my lost faith in quality contemporary literature.
In a good year, I read one book that stands out from the pack. Yes, I'm that particular a critic of prose fiction, irritated by books lacking good editing - and that's assuming the prose itself is even worth the effort. For every atrocious book being published there are thousands more which never see the light of day, simply because the author doesn't hire the right agent. Or can't afford to, in most cases.
The one book I fall in love with every year nails at least one of my requirements for what makes memorable fiction. Jim Lynch's book happens to hit the target on more than one level. He's created an endearing main character in Brandon. I couldn't get enough of him. I loved his sensitivity, his ability to see beauty where others didn't, his kindness and his gentle soul. Even a few of the minor characters, especially Brandon's father, manage to make the grade, something I find even more rare than a fascinating main character.
As far as the plot, if not technically riveting, I could forgive that based on the incredible prose styling. And, when I say not technically riveting, I don't mean it's uninteresting. There's a lot going on, but the book wasn't difficult to put down because I had to know what happened next. It was difficult to put down because Brandon was so fascinating, so off-beat, so easy to love and empathize with I needed to get back to him.
At times Lynch falters, as do most authors. There's a certain unprobability in some sections, a few trip ups. But, again, it's the prose that ultimately redeems the book.
I wish I could share passages, but I know the book may still undergo a few changes before publication. Prose that sings like this must be celebrated.
Border Songs may be my one book of the year. It's still too early to tell, but it's definitely in contention. It's hard to imagine surpassing Lynch's talent, and the book will definitely make my top three or five, but it will take a lot to dislodge this book from my complete admiration.
It's truly a beautiful book in its languid, flowing way. Definitely not an edge of your seat book, but one that will stay in your mind a long time after you turn the final page.
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Initial post: Jun 5, 2009 7:27:31 AM PDT
N. Fox says:
Overall not a bad review, but I could do without the discourse on the publishing industry, the sorry state of book editing, and the general grumpiness towards most authors on the market.
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