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Did You Ever Have a Family Paperback – May 17, 2016
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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This book has obviously gotten glowing reviews and been nominated for two of the Big Literary Awards. I finished it last night, and I just don't see what all the hype is about. Clegg goes for pages without a paragraph break, there's not a single line of dialogue in the whole book, there are so many narrators it's almost impossible to keep them straight, and -- to be a nitpicky English-major type -- he constantly follows semicolons with conjunctions. A lot of the books I'm reading lately make me wonder if copyeditors still exist.
The plot definitely pulls you along, but every time it gets good, Clegg switches to a different narrator. The ultimate reveal is disappointing. The writing is full of obvious similes -- for example, someone who gets angry a lot looks "possessed, like a zombie demon." Yes, I know that demons are the things that possess people, and I never want to hear the word "zombie" again, but maybe that's just me.
I didn't hate it, and I didn't put it down and walk away, but I definitely didn't LOVE it like everybody else. I found myself wondering if it would get the attention it's getting if it were written by a woman, or by someone who's not already a superstar in the literary world.
the writing is alternately biting and poignant...always tight, never overdone, often beautiful...(a real gift here for the just-right metaphor)...the observations are sharp and telling...the revelations both surprising and "true." the dialogue is mostly plain-spoken but with unstuffy eloquence all its own...each character is both strong and in some kind of denial on the various roads to "moving on."..."getting over it, getting past it"...coming to terms with it...a writer to savor now and keep an eye on,,,i'll read whatever this guy does next.