TOB 2010: The Lacuna vs. Fever Chart

Unfortunately, I have not made it to Fever Chart and have only finished about half of The Lacuna. I guess I hope that Fever Chart wins so that I can read it before it gets ousted.

The Lacuna, so far, is good. Kingsolver is an excellent writer, she can be dazzling with metaphors, and she keeps you interested. The problem I have so far is that I am more interested in the secondary characters than in the primary character. I suspect he takes on a larger role as the second half gets under way, but Trotsky, Frida (the famous painter), and Diego Rivera (the famous painter) have completely stolen the show.

In this way, it shares a mixing of actual history with imagined history with several other TOB contenders. It is not my favorite of those and, I suspect, it will have difficulty cracking the top half of my personal best of TOB 2010 list. While Kingsolver has some great metaphors, she tends to overwrite on occasion. Pushing too hard to make a metaphor where a simple description would do. The story has kept me engaged, but I am doubting Kingsolver’s ability to make magic out of the ingredients she has put in so far. Perhaps I have too little faith.

So, being strangely underwhelmed by Kingsolver’s very competent and quite good book, I am hoping Fever Chart is better. I am hoping I have time to read it before it exits the Tournament. It is from a small press; it’s from a new author with a decent story; it’s the kind of book you can cheer for sight unseen. I will.

Go, Fever Chart!

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5 Responses to TOB 2010: The Lacuna vs. Fever Chart

  1. Amy says:

    I haven’t read either yet. After Poisonwood Bible was such a big hit, I was talking with a friend of mine who’d lived in Congo during the timeframe of that book, and she was livid, said Kingsolver hadn’t done her homework, got it all wrong, etc. So that kind of soured me on Kingsolver.

  2. Kerry says:

    Amy,

    Very interesting. I haven’t read Poisonwood Bible and probably never would have. Now, I almost definitely never will. Between your comment and The Lacuna, I just don’t think she and I are a match.

    I think The Lacuna will go down next round.

  3. Amy says:

    The only thing that intrigues me about Lacuna is having Kahlo/Rivera as characters, because they’re so interesting. But I’m not sure they’re interesting enough. Maybe I’d get it from the library and give it a try.

  4. I haven’t read The Lacuna but descriptions of it seem to fit the idea of “widescreen novel” that John Self introduced to me last year. (“Widescreen” novels span history and geography but mainly use both as a staging ground; “historical” novels drill into an exploration of both.) I get put off some “widescreen” novels simply by description (“what right does the author have to use/abuse these characters instead of inventing her own?”)and that’s my attitude towards this book. I think Amy’s first comment illustrates the same phenomenon.

  5. Kerry says:

    Amy,

    The farther I go, the more I am convinced they are not enough. They overshadow the protagonist and, then, disappear.

    Kevin,

    Your thoughts are spot on. I would prefer a straight “historical” novel rather than appropriating the charismatic Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera as scenery for her novel ostensibly about someone else. Plus, the story told as a diary with newspaper clippings is starting to annoy me. By the end, I am not sure I will call it good. In other words, I think your attitude is justified. I would not recommend this book for you.

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