Monday, February 23, 2009

The Kicker

I finished The Buffalo Soldier, by Chris Bohjalian, today. In the last 100 pages, you can feel everything building to a climax--there's a storm like the one that killed the girls at the beginning of the book, and everyone's trying to drive home and really nervous about it, and we jump back and forth among our main characters very quickly. So you know something big is coming.

And for a minute, I got myself all turned around and thought I was reading a Jodi Picoult book, and I expected HER kind of twist ending--instead of the characters having to resolve their difficult quandaries, someone pivotal would die suddenly and no one would have to decide anything. I was totally expecting it--trying to figure out whose death would solve the most emotional and logistical problems within the story.

And then I realized that it wasn't her, and the story had a much more reasonable (if slightly convenient) ending. I actually feel very, very slightly let down, though, because I feel like he set up a very complicated moral conundrum and then resolved it by just sort of ignoring part of it. At least Picoult brings in a deus ex machina to tidy up the loose ends, instead of just pretending that they aren't there.

I hate to be so vague, but it was really such a good book that I don't want to give anything away about the ending! So, go read it and we'll talk more.

As an aside: it's interesting that authors who have very geographically centered novels often have one place that is their "away," where people go to start life over or escape or dream of. For Pat Conroy, it's Italy. For Chris Bohjalian, it's the American southwest.

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