Finished up with Bag of Bones. I have to give him this; even the long-winded stuff ended up connected to the story. He spends too much time invoking his themes--repeating seemingly innocuous bits of conversation from earlier in the book for ominous effect, for example--but by the end, everything I thought was a digression had been incorporated. I still think it could have been done faster, but in the end I'd call it a good book.
Now I need another audiobook, and I think I've realized it needs to be pretty action-packed, because you don't get as much out of language from listening. I've got Anansi Boys, the new Neil Gaiman, but I'm not sure I want to read it. Mike's liking it, though, so I'll give it a shot.
I'm also moving along in We Need to Talk about Kevin. For those who know me, this will come as a surprise, but I'm enjoying this book and finding it fascinating, in spite of the fact that I hate every single character and find the whole outlook of the book to be revolting. I think it's because the author does a good job of making me realize that I'm NOT supposed to get behind the worldview of the narrator. Often other people tell me an author is doing that, but I can't feel it. Fight Club. The Epicure's Lament. But this book has so many layers of self-consciousness--even just within the letters the character is writing, before you get to the author. She's a person with a kind of poisonous attitude toward almost everything, whose son turned out to be a genuine, gun-em-down sociopath. So she's exploring what a creepy changeling of a child he was, while also exploring her own emotional failings as a mother.
The nature of blame and guilt--what it's worth, how it's assigned, whether it means anything--is a big theme. The challenging part of the book is that this woman is blaming herself on some level, but also trying to exonerate herself by making it clear that everything was inevitable.
It's complex. I'm enjoying sorting her mind out, because she's someone I feel like I see a lot in the world--media, message boards, maybe even real life. Someone who's mostly cynical, but wants to find that core of sincerity in life, but also doesn't want to believe in it because cynical = superior.
It's got me thinking. Thanks for the loan Ceci.