how many lame apologies have you read that start out like this?
Hello Everyone. I must apologize for my long absence in keeping you updated about my trials and tribulations of toilet training junior while maintaining the county’s only pick your own radish farm. Unfortunately, the feds found daddy’s private and not in anybody’s face whiskey making operations up at the cave, and when they busted up hours of his hard work and craftsmanship, the thing caught fire, sending a river of burning shine in through the back window of my writing cubby, destroying all of my poop and radish notes. Heartsick, I could not begin again especially after junior was taken away for a week for testing by the county DFACS lady and my garden was set upon by cutworms and cabbage loopers.
Rather than recount my own tale of woe again, here’s where you can find it if you like reading tales of woe: as usual it only hurts when I laugh.
While recovering, I’ve read The Girl on the Train, the psychological thriller novel by Paula Hawkins and All the Light We Cannot See, the Pulitzer Prize winner by Anthony Doerr. Author and translator Shelly Bryant often posts a blog called “Hits and Misses” about recent books, movies and plays she’s read or seen. Borrowing from her, I have to call The Girl on a Train a miss because–while it has an interesting premise and some wonderful train imagery, the story works (to the extent that it works) only through the unlikelihood of three very weak women protagonists who can’t seem to get their lives together.
The details about an apparent crime that might have been seen in part by one of them could have become clear to the others and to the police if any one of these women had told a straight story rather than getting involved with her on “just can’t cope” inner demons. The book held my attention, but I hated the characters.
Doerr has a much larger canvas for his story about a blind French girl and a young German soldier during World War II. One might also say that such a relationship is improbable, but perhaps its Doerr’s three-dimensional characters and writing that make this book a hit, or the fact that when wars are large and cover vast sections of the world, we come to expect improbable stories and odd connections to emerge from the ashes.