Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Reader's Diary #63- Lisa Moore: Alligator (up to p.94)

Up to now I've been gushing about Alligator's merits. So much so, I was beginning to mistrust my own opinions! After all, it's a rare book that's perfect.

On that note, I may have found a flaw in Alligator. May have. The proposed problem that perplexes me (okay, I'll stop) is the character of Valentin. Valentin is from Russia and has every stereotype you can think of as a Russian. My first reaction to this was "why not?". I mean, some people fit stereotypes, good ones or bad ones. Just because it's not politically correct doesn't mean that some black people aren't great dancers, some Newfoundlanders aren't stupid or some Russians aren't heavy drinking, chess-playing, high cheekboned villains. It just yanked my attention away from the story a bit- it's pretty over-the-top stereotyping. And to some extent other characters are cliched versions as well. Colleen, for example, is a disgruntled teenager. That's not exactly original either. But no character is as blatantly pinned to a stereotype as Valentin. I began to think that maybe Moore had something up her sleeve, some point she might be trying to make...

But then I thought, if Tom Clancy or Dan Brown had such a character, I'd be the first to complain. So maybe I'm giving too much credit to Moore. Why? I don't know. Subconscious reasons perhaps; she's a Newfoundlander, the book has gotten a lot of critical praise, etc? I'd like to think I'm above those sort of influences, but maybe deep down I'm not.

I guess all I can say is that the verdict is still out. Did Moore create an overly stereotyped character for some literary point? Or was it bad writing? Am I an unbiased reader who thinks for himself? Or am I a blindly patriotic sycophant? I'll just have to wait and see.

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