Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Report

Water for Elephants
Sara Gruen

There are times where you just want to bitch-slap an author for trying to act like their screenplsy is a novel. Or when the dialogue between characters is so awkward and stilting that you suspect that you might be on a horrible first blind date. Or the plot twists so predictable that the one thing making you hold on is some hope for character development. In other words, Sara Gruen, I offer you a bitch slap.

It was bad enough when you ripped off the love triangle from Sophie's Choice, plugging in characters that were so obvious and insipid that they no doubt made Styron roll in his grave. (BTW, that behavior is actually more sociopathic or bipolar, not paranoid schizophrenia. The dude had a grip on reality, and no hallucinations. Couldn't you have at least picked up a DSM IV? Not every mean abusive lover is launched into paranoid schizophrenia land. Besides, paranoid schizophrenics tend to have actual character). But then you pretty much ripped off the underrated U2 video for "All I Want Is You" as well. However, one thing I would have forgiven you for ripping off would be "All Creatures Great and Small" because I just couldn't figure out where all the human-animal love came in. It's not a great friendship because you say it is. Show us, already.

I think I would've been happier with this book had it stayed more centered on the protagonist's later life, and didn't have so many eye-rolling authentic jargon-drops. Yes, you did your research on circus life by reading exactly five books, most of which were circus photos (seriously, read her commentary). I think it would have worked better though if you gave your readers some credit for having a brain cell or two that would mean they could pick up on context. I mean, I was able to do it for the incredibly long Polish sentences you stuck in there. Show-off.

From reading her non-fiction commentary, I get the impression Gruen probably writes excellent journalist pieces. Which she should stick to, and stay far far away from fiction until the next time she decides she needs another book-to-film deal. At least I'll know to stay away from the next one.

Only recommended if you are stuck in hospital in a foreign land with nothing else to read - a honor I previously only reserved for "Eat, Pray, Love." Congratulations?

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