read: 8 July 2005
The only reason I didn’t like this book more is because I was expecting it to be something it wasn’t. Or, more to the point, it was something I didn’t want it to be. Like Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age, this book has one main narrative and then a story-within-a-story weaving through it. Also like the other book, one story is much more interesting than the first. The novel is about a librarian who grows up in a reserved family in Australia. His Mom’s family has some sort of secret and he doesn’t know what it is. He aquires a penfriend in Britain who becomes the sole outlet for his lonliness and longing for companionship. His parent die, he becomes a librarian and the mystery begins to unwind, both as told by him and as related in stories he find in old copies of a now-defunct journal he finds lying about in odd places.
The stories from the journal, of course, are windows into the mysteries of this man’s family. However they are also long, and written in an altogether different style than the main narrative. I am not a good code switcher and I found myself skimming the stories [which were 30-40 pages long themselves] to figure out what happens to our hero. This is not, naturally, the best way to get involved with a good tale and at the end of it, I felt like it just wasn’t the right sort of story for me. There were clearly lots of clues strewn about in the inserted stories, but I couldn’t focus both on the main story -- which is delightfully creepy -- and them.
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