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Friday, December 8, 2006


Oxygen by Andrew Miller

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

May 19, 2003

By the time I finished this book, I really wondered what the connection was between the two stories of the story: the story of the Valentine family grappling with the death of the family matriarch, Alice, and the story of Hungarian playwright Lazlo who's caught up in some sort of political intrigue. Then, as rarely happens, I understood that the connection is in Lazlo's play, where at the end the miners underground begin to try tunneling up while someone above ground begins trying to tunnel down to save them. In this case, I'd say the two sides tunneling towards each other are Alice's son Alec (who's also translating the play into English) and Lazlo, but I might be wrong. The play ends ambiguously and so does Miller's book.

Ordinarily I would have panned this book because when it ends, there is no resolution, but understanding the metaphor (or hoping I do), it makes sense to me. So I can understand why Miller ended the novel where he did. Still, as a reader I prefer concrete endings that resolve the issues being brought up in the book.

My problem, another rarity, is that the book is too short. I was just getting to understand the characters and then the book is over, I'd have liked more time to flesh them out better. The other problem is that not a lot of interesting stuff happens. There's no action, there's not even a lot of dialogue, it's more about people THINKING about things, which while it gives us insight into the characters, does not make for an interesting story. Give me some love scenes, some car chases, a barroom brawl, SOMETHING other than characters contemplating the sad state of the universe.

Anyway, what anyone reading this is wondering by now is: should I buy this book? I'd say yes, but only if you've nothing else to read. Miller's writing is good, the characters are decent, and all the contemplating does make you think.

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