I’m Halfway Through Two Books and I Have Some Thoughts

That picture is from this post.

Maybe it’s better to wait until you’ve finished the entire book before you review it but that isn’t erm’s way.

Book One: Who Killed Edie Montgomery? by C.M. Blackwood

whokilledediemontgomery

A book written by a fellow blogger on here (and a swell one at that), I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading. So I’m just a tad over the halfway point, and I have three things to say so far:

1. I don’t know who killed Edie Montgomery yet – which is good, because there’s still 49% of the book left. I do have one suspect in mind, but I’m not convinced yet.

2. Jessica is my favourite ghost ever. Maybe Casper runs her a close second. Jessica is so nice and playful and I wish we could all be haunted by spirits like her.

More seriously, there’s a depiction of Jessica’s murder that I was very impressed with. We see it after we’ve come to know her, and even though she’s likable at once, we’ve spent enough time with and without her to know that she really is a bright spot in Mary’s (the protagonist) life and in the book. Her murder, even though we know it’s coming from a mile away, is therefore really disturbing without being overstated.

There isn’t blood or gore. There isn’t lingering violence. It’s presented in a minimal way that makes it even worse.

After finishing the entire part, I was really impressed. It reminded me of The Fall, a crime show starring Gillian Anderson that stands out because it allows its (mostly) female victims to be actual characters and not just decorations like they usually are. I often forget how commonplace it is to depict murder, often sexualized murder, of women as just quick fixes of the violence and sometimes nudity quotas. I don’t think desensitizing an entire culture to women murder is a good thing, so on those rare occasions where we’re made to care about it rather than just watch murder after murder blank-faced, it’s always appreciated.

Jessica is great and I hope that somehow, even as a ghost, she gets a happy ending.

3. Mary! This character is such a pain sometimes, but because of the entire opening we know why. Whenever Mary is being short with people (whether they deserve it or not) it’s always in the back of my mind that no matter how dismissive, and sometimes casually cruel she can be, she isn’t just like that without reason. What’s even better is that when she’s being a little bit bad, I always enjoy it anyway. I know that she’s flawed but I still want her to get what she wants, even in the short term, like a drink. Or being left alone by unfailingly nosy people that seem to seek her out 24/7.

I’m looking forward to finishing the book. My hopes include Jessica’s happy ending as I mentioned, but Mary should get one too (simple solution would be that they get THE SAME ONE), I hope that Mary doesn’t get murdered, and I hope that Drum gets a comical “death.” Maybe Kate McKinnon can help with that one.

OK no, the Ghostbusters shouldn’t show up. But I want him to die somehow.

Book 2: Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

monkey-beach

 

This one continues the proud traditions in Canadian lit by women I’ve read so far.

1. Depictions of animal suffering.

Sigh. The whales in Sounding the Blood, the chicks and the kitten in Obasan, and now chickens (again!) and a puppy or a kitten or something in Monkey Beach. These depictions are an interesting trend that probably no one but me is interested in. The whales are killed by people, but the animals in Obasan and Monkey Beach are killed by other animals or by unhappy circumstance. It means something deep but it makes me too sad to think about so it will take me some time to develop a coherent theory. For now, know that if you’re picking up a book by a Canadian woman, it will probably include disturbing parts with animals.

2. Nature is everywhere

There’s a lot of nature.

3. Family is everything: loving, supportive, problematic, hateful, harmful

Monkey Beach is mostly (so far, anyway) memories of Lisa’s childhood. She slowly grows up through recollections she’s having while dealing with the disappearance and probable sea-death of her brother. Like other Canadian women’s lit, we see how loving family is powerful, and how devastatingly it can unravel a person. That happened in Sounding the Blood and Obasan too. Again. I probably should have read the whole book before trying to talk about it.

What I hope for while I finish Monkey Beach is that Jimmy isn’t dead (but unlike with Jessica, who I’m optimistic about even though IRL it makes no sense, I think Jimmy is actually dead and staying dead), and I hope that Lisa is OK in the end. Surprisingly, I’m much more optimistic about happy endings in a murder mystery than I am in a book primarily about family and that’s because Canadian women cut to the bone. Why is everything so sad? Also I would like to know what the monkey beach is, because I still haven’t found out.

Halfway through and I recommend both. They’re similar in their slow-burnness, a term I use to describe the quality of a story that takes its time and gives a lot of detail. The details of Mary’s life really contrast her bright moments with Jessica, and now that she’s actually learning the history of her house, the moments of revelation. And it was worth the time it took to get Mary’s story started. Not knowing how everything went down with early love and her mother would definitely make it harder to be on Mary’s side most of the time. The details of Lisa’s childhood make everything sadder. Why. But they also flesh out the setting in ways I’ve never seen before. I’ve never read about kids swimming that reminded me at all of being a swimming kid until Monkey Beach.

Tis all.

Amazon:

Who Killed Edie Montgomery?

Monkey Beach

Those are amazon.ca links. :/

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