Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reader's Diary #213- Heather O'Neill: Lullabies For Little Criminals (up to p. 230)

(Spoiler alert)

There have been times while reading this book that I've been shocked at how well written it is. There's a particularly brilliant moment when Baby first starts into prostitution when she starts to think about Jack and the Beanstalk during intercourse. It really captures the tragedy of the situation. Being young and naive, she's a little blind to the real danger and sadness of the situation but her subconscious is not. She, like Jack, wants a way out of her situation. And that it's a fairy-tale further captures the crime of what is going on.

Yet there are other times, I'm less than thrilled with the writing. The details seem a little too inconsistent. She gives the impression that she has no treasured childhood toys except a doll given to her by her by her mother, yet further down the road she suddenly has had a teddy bear since she was six. She's a loner whose only shot at a friend was frightened off by her dad, and then suddenly she's talking about a friend named Zoe who seems to have been there all along. And while it's not an inconsistency, she makes reference to the Polish Cook from the Muppet Show. Now maybe she knew the difference of this, the way the memory works and all, but it was the Swedish Chef I believe she was referring. However, despite these tiny issues I'm greatly enjoying this book. If initially it had reminded me of A Complicated Kindness, that has quickly vanished under its layers of evil.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh how I debated whether to read your post after the spoiler alert! But I did and I'm glad for it.

That's a little disconcerting to hear about the inconsistency of details. Do you think it's a case of sloppy editting, or do you think that it could be a technique being used to show the unreliability of her memory. I'm not even certain if that would even enter into the novel, but I'm just curious.

I am intrigued by the "layers of evil". I'm looking forward to reading this soon.

John Mutford said...

It was you that I had in mind when I put the spoiler warning at the beginning.

I wouldn't worry too much about the detail inconsistencies though. As I've said, they aren't a major problem and don't really take away from the story. I have considered, as you've said, that maybe it says something about the reliability of her memory (or everyone's for that matter).

And maybe layers wasn't a great word. Variance, I should say. When you read it, compare her dad Jules to her pimp, Alphonse. Both are evil, but in completely different ways. One is intentional and the other is from neglect or self-centredness.

Anonymous said...

This book has been hanging around the "Recently Read" shelf at work for weeks now, and of course, when I went to get it today, someone's checked it out AND there's a reserve on it, too! After reading your reviews of it, I was looking forward to readind it!

John Mutford said...

Rebecca, hang in there. I think it'll be worth the wait- and hopefully you'll get it before Canada Reads starts. I wonder how the sales of this book have gone up since it was announced as a CR contender.

Anonymous said...

I put a reserve on it today - and I noticed the other CR books are also checked out. That can't be a coincidence.