Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Review: Lost in the Forest

Title: Lost in the Forest
Author: Sue Miller
Genre: Literary Fiction
Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: D-

Summary: Eva is divorced from Mark with two teenaged daughters, Emily and Daisy; she's remarried to John with a toddler, Theo. John is tragically killed and the members of the family each cope in their own way. Eva and Mark start to move back toward each other, Emily grows up, Theo fantasizes, and Daisy embarks on a path of destructive behavior.

First Line: "Emily telephoned, his older daughter, 'Can you come get us?' she said. 'It's an emergency.'"

Review: This is the second of Miller's books that I've read, and I'm finding that she has some consistent patterns. Some are good patterns, things that keep you reading; some are bad patterns, things that make you want to throw the book at the wall (or at least roll your eyes hard enough to harm your vision).

The Good Pattern: She loves the theme of messy marriages. And she's right, it's not easy. I like reading about the way she writes marriages. The way she talks about the boring aspects of being married, etc., and the way that the person you've been married to for years (or decades) can still surprise you.

The Bad Pattern: She loves the theme of sexual exploration, but she's a prude about it. For example, instead of using the word "vagina," or any of its myriad slang synonyms, she calls it "sex." Like, in this book, she talks about one character's "sex" clicking when she opens her legs. Really? You called it her "sex"? That's just stupid. I'm not opposed to the idea of using sexuality as a motif or backdrop used to tell the story of discovery, but don't be so weird about it. Her writing comes off as if she wants to talk about sex, but she's embarrased. Either do it well, or don't do it all (and I'm speaking of writing here, if you know what I mean).

I think I'm done with Sue Miller. I've got her figured out. I don't disagree that marriage is messy. I don't disagree that sexuality is a complex part of our persona. I just don't, personally, need to read her narratives of it because it can be done better.

I didn't want to finish this book. It was going nowhere fast, but she did have a good thing going in that the perspective of Daisy is told from a bit of flash-back, and you want to know how she comes out in the end. For that, she kept me reading (begrudginly). I finished, but just barely. Hence, her D- grade.

Recommendation: I recommend that you skip this book and read other books in the category of women's fiction.

1 comment:

La Coccinelle said...

Thanks for the review.

It looks like the premise could be interesting, but I guess it wasn't done that well.

"Sex" as a concrete noun? Er...