Saturday, April 08, 2006

Reader's Diary #70- Lisa Moore: Alligator (FINISHED)

I'm finished Alligator, and while I can still say I enjoyed it, my enthusiasm for it began to wane about 3/4 of the way through.

It was roughly around that point that Alligator started to reveal it's weak points. The biggest one being the increasingly implausible story lines. I gave credit to Moore earlier for portraying a very realistic version of St. John's. That was before the club scene with Colleen and Frank. Not that I lived on George Street (though I know people that literally did), but unless the bars there have changed dramatically since my university days, her bar scene was WAY over the top. Full frontal nudity and shrooms may have made appearances in some of the bars, but I doubt any bar was as overt with it as in this book.

And it's not just the setting that becomes unbelievable, some of the plots do as well. Especially with Colleen's trip to find the alligator victim. But I won't say any more for risk of spoiling the ending further.

I also found her choice of character perspectives a bit unnecessary. I was okay with chapters revolving around a core group of people; Colleen, Frank, Madeleine, Beverly, Valentin and maybe even Isobel, but when Moore started handing out chapters like gum in a carpool, I grew wary. It started with Mr. Duffy and then almost everyone that the main characters came in contact with got their own. Was it necessary for Loyola, the alligator guy, to get his own chapter? Or Kevin, a long time acquaintance of Frank? or even worse Carol, Frank's landlady? This same complaint ruined John Bemrose's the Island Walkers for me, and had the potential to do that here- except Alligator did have its saving graces.

I did enjoy the intertwining of these lives, I did enjoy her colourful way of describing scenes, and I enjoyed most of the characters (though I still feel that Valentin was too cliched). I also like that the choice of an alligator as a symbol in a book about Newfoundlanders has left me thinking. I'm sure the major theme in this book had something to do with trouble (or drama or danger- pick your noun). And even more specifically, I believe it had something to do with trouble that you seek versus trouble that finds you. But was it just a theme, or did this book have certain qualities of a parable? Many morals could be found here if one was so inclined. Personally, I could see a rather cynical message: there's plenty of trouble right here in front of us, you don't need to go an alligator farm to find it.

But I still think this novel should have been called Spanworms.

1 comment:

John Mutford said...

Read Steve Zipp's great review here.