Lifting the curtain on my life's third act.

Miz Shoes Reviews: The Book of Life

It has been a very long time since Miz Shoes turned in a book report, but here goes.

I just finished The Book of Life, the (per the web site) long-awaited finale to a trilogy. That's true. The release date was set back many times, and the book was languishing in my Amazon basket, waiting. I got it, dragged it home and sat down to read. What a freaking disappointment.

The first two thirds of the book are back story for anyone who hasn't read the first two books. Characters are rehashed and highlighted, relationships briefly noted and idiosyncrasies duly recounted and beaten to death by repetition. The protagonist's house, which spent the first two books becoming its own sentient character is left dangling. The plot line is brought up to the present and once all the pieces are in place for the climactic and violent resolution, the author handles it thusly: Well, that happened, and everyone got hurt and needed time to recover and then, happily ever after, with enough loose ends to write another three books.

No, really. You slog through three volumes of diminishing interest and writing quality to get to the big battle between the good witches and the vampires who love them and the dark, evil, string-pulling psycho army of darkness, and what you get is a long chapter of lead up, with lots of gory nastiness that turns out to be illusion only, and then a battle that isn't written at all. It's just: and then they fought and the good guys won, but not without pain, but we aren't going to get into that either, just imagine it for yourself, and the hero is badly hurt, but we'll let him heal in privacy and come back to him when he's better.

It feels like the publishers wanted another block-buster series, and talked an author writing her story spread out over three books, when all she had in her was one long volume. I spent the summer re-reading some other romantical/fantasy/historical series (Dorothy Dunnett's House of Nicolo, which is absolutely exquisite) and the entire Outlander up to and including Gabaldon's latest volume, and not only is Ms Harkness not in the same league as those authors, she isn't even ready for the minors.

But what really irked me, what was really just laziness on the part of the author and her editors was the running "joke" that the heroine's mother and the house itself were huge Fleetwood Mac fans, and so the 1975 album "Fleetwood Mac" is on continuous play in the aether, but Diana (our hero) hates it. While this is an acceptable, if not truly witty gag, the album in question is repeatedly referred to as their first album. It is not. Even the most cursory of glances at Fleetwood Mac's Wikipedia entry or discography would have made that clear. It was the first album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The band itself had been around since 1967. They were a respectable, if not huge, draw during the British Blues era. It is this complete ignorance of rock and roll history that chaps Miz Shoes' ass so very, very much.

Lack of historical accuracy and perspective is what soured me on "Mad Men" as well. In the first season there was a scene where someone has just returned from a Florida vacation to say that mosquitos aren't the only thing in Boca with big noses. It was a throw away line to indicate complacent anti-Semitism. Except. I'm a Florida native. In 1960, the moneyed Yankees wouldn't have been going to Boca, they would have been going to Palm Beach or Miami Beach, to the Fountainbleu or the Deauville or even to Cuba to gamble. If you can't be arsed to the do research, then don't use the references.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/18 at 01:37 PM in That's Entertainment


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