The Girls by Emma Cline. This is debut novel by a young author who got some crazy-stupid advance ($2 million dollars. For a debut novel.) It's getting glowing reviews all over the place. Seriously, just Google it - I'm not linking to them all. Everybody and their Dead Grandmother thinks this is the bestest book in the whole world and OMG IT'S MAGIC!
The plot, in a nutshell, would be like if Charles Manson and Jim Jones had an illegitimate love child. It follows a 14-year-old girl in Northern California who falls in with a cult. I'm not sure how you make that boring enough to make me want to drive bamboo shoots underneath my fingernails, but there you go. I got through over 3 hours of a 9 hour audiobook and was so bored out of my mind that the thought of getting in my car and listening to it during my commute had me thinking affectionately about inane DJ chatter.
Endless musings about complete nothingness, and dialogue? Who needs dialogue? (By far my biggest gripe with the literary fiction world is that dialogue is seen as some odious four-letter word. You know how fun it is to read a NOVEL with close to zero dialogue? Yeah, it blows.)
Since I slogged through the audio, I'm cribbing some examples of the writing from a GoodReads reviewer. I did get to this part of the "story" and the only thing keeping my eyes from crossing was that I was driving. I can't cross my eyes and drive at the same time:
I ate in the blunt way I had as a child—a glut of spaghetti, mossed with cheese. The nothing jump of soda in my throat.Now imagine page after endless page of that with close to zero dialogue to break it up. And THIS is the latest "it" book everyone is raving about.
I tended to the in-between spaces of other people’s existences, working as a live-in aide. Cultivating a genteel invisibility in sexless clothes, my face blurred with the pleasant, ambiguous expression of a lawn ornament.
The older I get the more I realize that I want a storyteller. Give me a good story. Engage me with interesting characters and dialogue. Have a bloody point to what you're writing. I was essentially 1/3 of the way through the book and I wanted to bang my head repeatedly against my car's steering wheel to JUST. MAKE. IT. STOP. ALREADY.
Philistine, thy name is Wendy - but I'll be over here reading a romance novel thankyouverymuch.
Final Grade = DNF
Kinsey and Me: Stories by Sue Grafton is a short story (duh) collection. The first half of the book is a collection of stories featuring Grafton's female private detective character, Kinsey Milhone. Like all short story collections, some of the stories are better than others. If you're already a fan of Grafton's character and series - these stories will be marginally interesting. It's like visiting an old friend. That said, there's nothing terribly earth-shattering here. Even as a Kinsey fan, I feel like had I never gotten around to this collection? That would have been OK. So basically....meh.
The second half of the collection are stories featuring "Kit Blue" and they're semi-autobiographical stories Grafton wrote after her mother died. I know this is going to come out sounding cruel, your mother dying is no joke, but I feel like Grafton should have left the therapy writing in her desk drawer. Again, it's endless pages of zero dialogue, musings about whatever, and the stories fail to hang together in any cohesive way (they jump around in time and space). Frankly the whole thing came off as self-indulgent to me - which I know makes me sound like a horrible person - but whatever. I'm sure a writer is going to write to cope with emotions, times of grief - I get that. Doesn't mean they all have to be published.
Final Grade = C-