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Monday, May 08, 2006

Reader's Diary #83- Jean M. Auel: The Plains of Passage (ch 40, p. 668)


The final stretch. Less than 100 pages to go. You know it's a bad book when you start doing that.

But at least I've found some parts to enjoy. The part with the S'Armunai (i.e., camp of angry women) was a little exciting, even if it was predictable at times. In books such as these, it's hard not to be predictable. On the one hand, if the author doesn't acquiesce a to the fans, s/he can avoid being formulaic and obvious. But on the other hand, s/he runs the risk of alienating those poor, unfortunate souls that keep the money coming. So Auel chose to have Wolf save the day. Of course. Remember Jar Jar Binks? Unfortunately, so do I. I sat through Phantom Menace thinking, "he's going to have to save the day eventually- to make up for his annoyingness." But Jar Jar didn't save squat and the world collectively hated him for it. Wolf, on the other hand, comes around and redeems himself. Obvious? Yes. But at least the fans were appeased.

I've also enjoyed how Auel toys with the way legends and myths are made; basically through a lack of understanding and the need to believe. I love how, despite Ayla's and Jondalar's best efforts, the various camps of people see them as some sort of supernatural presence, or at least as having ties with the supernatural world.

But that's as far as the complements go. The book is still way too long. I believe, someone during Canada Reads accused Deafening as being over researched. I've had that problem with other books as well, most notably Clancy's Red Storm Rising. Likewise for The Plains of Passage. It's like the authors must lack the ability to let go of every useless fact they find while researching for their novel. I'm not a huge fan of the Da Vinci Code, but I do have to give credit to Brown. He made research work for his novel instead of against it.

I could have also done without the amateur psychology lessons from Auel. I'm not going to go all Tom Cruise on you and say that psychiatry is a pseudo-science (I have a psych degree after all), but Auel's black and white theory on human motivation is laughable and way too oversimplified. Angry at men? You must have been abused by men. Can't have intercourse because of a painful memory in your past? Just watch a couple do it lovingly and you'll be cured. I surely hope people aren't lining up to lay on Auel's couch.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Nothing is more telling about a book's appeal than if you are compelled to count the pages until you are done. I hope you reward yourself with a FUN book after this one. I'm doing a bit of the same with The Way the Crow Flies (Ann Marie McDonald) - at times compelling, at times page-counting - 716(not a good sign that I know that).