…and yet, I’m going to any way. Mainly with the intent that I won’t have to look at crap like this any more. One of my pet peeves is books with historical anachronisms. Two situations in historical novels are the biggest offenders: dialogue and women protagonists.
One such offender, in a sea of many such, is a book called The Malice of Fortune. From the NLS annotation:
Italy, 1502. Damiata, former mistress of Pope Alexander’s murdered son Juan, is sent to Imola to investigate who was behind his death. There, she meets and enlists the aid of Niccol Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2012.
Damiata is a woman. And she’s officially, or unofficially, investigating a murder. Presumably she meets with some level of cooperation as an investigator. Please, I am sick of this need in modern literature for there to be more positive female rolls IN EVERY GENRE AND PERIOD OF LITERATURE.
My belief becomes seriously unsuspended when a writer just stuffs a female into an historically inappropriate roll. I’m sure if I read the forward or afterward that Michael Ennis has some explanation about how one woman, in one corner of the world, in 1502, was actually a private investigator–they always manage to dig up one as an example.
I’m all for strong and empowered female characters, and I really enjoy post 19th century women detective novels, but it seems so patronizing when they shove these square pegs into round holes.
Anyway, we get it–women are important in all periods of history–and I mean that…for centuries, women had their place…was it right, or was it wrong? I think that our history bears that keeping women in their place was wrong, but, that being said, let’s stop re-writing history in novels…it’s hard enough getting a straight deal out of a grade school history book without littering Barnes and Noble’s shelves with this malarkey.
Sorry Reader, I know it’s been a long time. I’d like to say that my absence from this blog has been due entirely to the fact that I haven’t stumbled upon any poopy books. Alas, that isn’t exactly true. I can admit to you, my friend, that although I’ve been cataloging like crazy for the last three months, I haven’t been paying much attention to the individual books’ contents. Does this mean that I’ve been a bad cataloguer? I can’t answer that. I will tell you though, that I’ve been reading a shit ton of books since August…which enhances my qualifications, not only as a cataloger, but also as a judge-er of books.
This week’s submission is called The Tale of Halcyon Crane. I have both cataloged this turd and read it cover to cover. And here is what I have to say: what a waste of time. This book is 328 pages in print, and 9 hours, 52 minutes in audio. This book should have been about 1 hour, 30 minutes, or a whole lot less pages.
From the NLS annotation:
Journalist Hallie James learns the mother she thought had died thirty years ago was, until recently, alive–and a famous photographer. Hallie travels to remote Grand Manitou Island on the Great Lakes to seek the truth but instead encounters hostile locals and ancestral ghosts in her childhood home. 2010.
The NLS annotation doesn’t give any indication of what a
fart bag waste of time this book will be. Basically, this person (being a journalist really doesn’t come into play much at all in the book so don’t worry about that detail) Hallie James has lived in Washington since her mother died in a fire when Hallie was 5 years old. Since that time, Hallie lived with, and later near, her father, who was an important, and well renowned educator in, I want to say…mathematics? Changed people’s lives, stand and deliver, etc. etc., you get the picture.
Anyway, one day Hallie gets a letter from her “dead” mother. The woman has tracked her down and is telling her, by letter, that she is her mother and invites her to come to Grand Manitou Island. Unfortunately, the woman died before the letter was recieved by Hallie. Hallie asks her father about her “dead” mother, and then later that night, he suffers a heart attack, or stroke, or something and also dies.
Hallie jets off to Grand Manitou Island to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THINGS. Without telling any of the locals (and she talks to a lot of them) that the famous photographer woman claimed to be her mother, she learns that the woman had a daughter named Halcyon who drowned, with her father, about 30 years ago. She hears this alot. From all the locals she talks to. And yet…
And yet it takes this moron nearly half of the book to realize that Hallie MIGHT, just might, be short for Halcyon. Ohmygod, she’s the girl who was thought to be dead!! Just like her [now] dead mother is the woman whom Hallie thought to be dead for all of these years. Is this supposed to be a mystery because it just seems like patronizing poopcakes.
There’s a ghostly family history that and elderly family servant shares with Hallie/Halcyon that explains…over the course of a few weeks (or days)…how the family got to the events of the death-by-fire, drowned-in-the-lake misunderstanding.
It never occurs to Hallie that the old woman can’t possibly know all of the intimate details of the people who’s stories she is relating to Hallie. I mean, if this idiot is really a journalist, shouldn’t she start having SOME doubts about point of view and narrator? The woman is telling the story in a first person omniscient sort of way and you’re not a little curious about how she knows all of this? It also never dawns on Hallie that this old lady is only seen by Hallie and NOBODY else? [SPOILER ALERT (highlight to view): the old lady is the ghost of a witch.]
And that brings me to my usual, willing-suspension-of-disbelief, gripe. Hallie’s dad faked their death, the mother had been looking for her for years because she didn’t believe that her daughter was really dead, and yet NEVER found her? The father didn’t exactly “go underground.” Later you find out that he had an accomplice, and it becomes even more far fetched that this accomplice woman stayed quiet–and stayed on Grand Manitou without spilling the beans–for 30 years. Even after she gave birth to the man’s illegitimate son and raised him as a single mother. Please…it’s Grand Manitou…not outer Mongolia…where even THEY have heard of child support.
Anyway, the ghost story part of this book is solid. Unfortunately, it’s wrapped in wadded up soiled toilet paper masquerading as a “novel” and should be avoided at all costs.
Actually, the book is called, The Bone Thief: a Body Farm novel, but please, some things are just too stupid. Apparently this is part of a series, so I’m sure there is at least one other literary piece of crap by this author with a similarly ridiculous premise.
From the NLS annotation:
Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton goes undercover for the FBI after he discovers that corpes are being raided for black-market body parts. Meanwhile Eddie Garcia, from Bones of Betrayal, needs to have his ruined hands replaced by a cadaver’s.
Um, what? What body parts would be viable, yes, viable from a corpse? Isn’t that the whole point of the word, viable as in, capable of living, developing, or germinating (thanks, Free Dictionary). So, how would taking body parts off of dead bodies even be an issue? I mean, yes, I do believe there are laws against desecrating corpses, so sure, let’s investigate and all, but why try to dress this turd up by adding a completely superlative notion that these dead body parts are for sale in the black market? I’m sorry, this is so ridiculous that I can’t even really reason it out.
And then another what? moment when it mentions some dude from the last “book” (yes, those are technically air-quotes) who either causes the ruination of his hands, or somehow suffers some hand ruining, and then has to get “cadaver” hands attached to his wrists. I’m assuming these are going to serve in some vestigial capacity at this point since they can’t possible serve with any…here we go again…viability on account of the fact that they come from a DEAD BODY. Dead. As in, no longer living (thanks, Dictionary.com).
As always, happy reading. I’m catalogging this week so BOLO (be on the lookout) for more fascinating examples of American “literature.” Yes, I used air-quotes twice in one conversation. I do that.