These are reviews originally posted to Amazon as customer reviews. They're intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. (Apologies for any typos, bad grammar, or offensive language.) This isn't sponsored by Amazon or represent them in any way, although they do have a very nice site and I recommend checking it out for your next book purchase. Feel free to comment on the books if you've read them or tell me how much my reviews suck or whatever.
That is all.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Beached Whale

Beach Music by Pat Conroy

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful:

February 11, 2005

Before I begin the review, let me start with a disclaimer. I am notoriously picky about what I read, watch, and listen to. My taste rarely gels with the mainstream. So while I absolutely didn't like this book, I'm sure most of you will love it. In other words, don't listen to me.

That being said, I just can't understand why anyone actually likes this book. It's 800 pages long and I still can't figure out what the point of it was. I suppose Jack had to come to terms with his wife's death, but then did we really need all that excess stuff--the life history of every person Jack's come into contact with? The parts about the Holocaust are riveting, but in the framework of the story how much did it really contribute to my understanding that the ordeal Shyla's parents went through ended up screwing her up. And the thing with Jordan and Vietnam also didn't seem to add much to Jack's story.

This book reminds me a lot of when I read Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again" in that both had this episodic make-up with some episodes that were engrossing and others that were torturous. Some, like the adventure at sea, made me wonder "What's this have to do with anything?" It just seemed to me after a while that the author must believe that the only way to tell the story was to tell every tiny detail for every character, even peripheral ones like Max Rusoff, The Great Jew.

For me, this book seemed to lack purpose and moved along so incrementally that I wanted to scream. There were a few interesting moments, but in the end, few of them seemed to add to my understanding of Jack or his coming to terms with things. For whatever reason, that doesn't seem to be the opinion voiced by many other people. Maybe they understood things better than I did.

I also have to say that Leah was the most unconvincing child I've ever read in print. She wasn't a real girl so much as Shirley Temple with an adult vocabulary--just too precious for words. By the end I was hoping she'd decide to migrate with the loggerhead turtles, but that didn't happen.

The wedding at the end also seemed forced and hopelessly sentimental. The author never really built the relationship between the two characters, so it didn't make much sense to me that they got together in the end. It was all summed up in one sentence--"we decided while making the movie we couldn't live without each other"--which after 750 pages doesn't make a lot of sense; seems to me there was plenty of time to build the connection between the characters in between all those episodes, but it didn't really happen. In the end it seemed to me that they got married because, well, Jack needed to marry someone for the ending, so it may as well be her.

Like I said, there were parts of the book that were A+, but far more that just seemed to waste my time. On the balance, I just couldn't enjoy this long, rambling yarn as much as other people. But as I said above, don't listen to me.

No comments: