Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Book Review: Land of the Blind

I can go through months and not read a book worth reviewing let alone recommending.  On this, sadly now finished vacation, I've read several that I think others would like. Land of the Blind by Jess Walter is one of them.

Started it late on Friday and read a few pages. Then picked it up on Saturday morning and it was off to the races finishing it on Sunday night.  A page turner, obviously, but the story and messages have stuck around for a few days and I suspect will take on greater weight as time goes on.

There are some negatives. The story revolves around a man in a police station who claims he wants to confess to a crime.  He asks to write down the confession. And then, on yellow pads, writes over half of what becomes this book in a few days.  Well, nobody can write so well and so much in a few days.  So that part is difficult to accept.  Also, the story while beautifully told is not especially different from other tales of this ilk.

But the positives are many.  Excellently written (and therefore preposterous that someone could write it in a couple of days on yellow pads).  Some sections belong in a hall of fame somewhere. The one that stands out to me occurs when the main character is contacted by a high school interest and he is very excited about the contact.  She suggests they meet for lunch and he is delighted. She shows up with her husband and the few pages that describe their conversation and his discomfort are special.  In addition to the writing, the character of the detective is nuanced and, to me at least, engaging. I understand she appears in another of Walter's books and is not the "lead" in this one, but when she appears I like how she is drawn and the insights the author attributes to her.

The story, while in some ways predictable, is so well told that I find myself today thinking about how he is going to fare and what she is going to do.  Can one see better in the land of the blind once they refocus their vision?  Can one be blind to love and be blinded by a desire to be perceived inconsistently with one's self-perceptions?  What does Eli mean by his insistence that Empire is not a game?

Even if none of these questions occur to you, you'll like the way the book reads and probably, as is the case with me, want to read his other books.

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