Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review--The Kept

Sometimes I get in a groove of reading and I can't get enough.  I might read three books a week, maybe more and as soon as I put one down, I look for the next like someone who has had a piece of cake might check out the refrigerator to see if there is another sliver available. And then there are other times when reading becomes a chore and I have to force myself to pick up a book, forcing myself because I know how much I get out of reading. Kind of like forcing yourself to go to the gym because you know how much better you will feel after an hour on the elliptical. When I get into one of the latter modes--where I am right now--the best way to jumpstart myself to get on the voracious reading path is to read a very good book. The Kept, a novel by James Scott, a book I just finished this morning did not do the trick.

I had read a review of the book a few weeks back and what intrigued me is that it is set on the shores of Lake Erie in New York State. I lived all over the shores of Lake Erie in New York with stints in Buffalo, Angola, Dunkirk and Fredonia.  For a stretch I commuted from Angola to Fredonia and went through tiny burghs like Silver Creek en route. And then would drive to Erie along route 5 which hugs the Lake passing through other communities until you arrive in Pennsylvania. So, I thought the book might intrigue me from that vantage point.  The book takes place over a hundred years ago so it is tough to get a handle on where it might be as the fictitious town set then has and would have few helpful landmarks. It seems too rural for Buffalo, my guess is Dunkirk--but where it is, is all besides the point.  It is set where it is to give one a sense of the cold and snowy winters in this town.  It is snowing constantly throughout the book.

The story is bizarre.  A wife returns from a journey to her remote country home with gifts for her kids only to discover that her brood including her husband have been murdered. One boy is not accounted for.  When she finds that boy--and the circumstances are very unusual and horrific-- the two set off to find the murderers.  They travel by foot to the nearest town which sits on Lake Erie and the two spend a month there sort of trying to find the murderers and, the mother also attempting to dodge demons. The demons she is dodging are very strange, yet central to every part of the story.

It is tough to believe much of any part of this novel.  So, I try to think of it as some kind of symbolic tale. Maybe the message is that home and family are where the heart is and not a function of how one found oneself in the family. This seems cryptic and would only make sense if you read the book.  However, I would not recommend reading the book and therefore, if you take my advice, my cryptic message will remain so.

Well written at parts, but I was able to put it down for long periods.  Some characters blurred into one another.  The relationship with Charles is odd. And Caleb's encounters with a young prostitute also seem meaningless.

So, this did not jump start me.  But maybe I just did not get it.  A lot of people trumpeted this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment