Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

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Re: Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

Postby Baker » 11 Apr 2011, 08:41

Proofrdr wrote:Generally, the writing was good, and I would say the book is worth reading, but it was not an enjoyable read for me and there were elements that I found problematic.

This sums it up nicely for me.

Some areas I had problems with are ones others have also mentioned:

(1) Spanish. If it's comprehensible from context, fine: if not, you've lost this reader. Is it reasonable to expect everyone who reads your book in English to understand Spanish?

(2) The ending. Sucked massively. Also seemed rushed compared to the length the author devoted to seemingly less important episodes. A convent? Seriously?

(3) Tension. Not varied. That contributed in no small part to how much of a slog I found this book to read. There was no let up. No time for reflection. Yes, Micaela's life was grim, but every single moment of every day?

(4) Like GG, I found those comments about future events out of place. I couldn't see the point of them.

(5) Miceala. I don't need a likeable protagonist, but I do need a reason to care. Micaela was hard work for me in that respect. Sure, she was shit on by everyone, which is fodder for empathy, but her reactions and choices were unsympathetic.

(6) As Elaine mentioned, there was a strange contrast between the setting of expansive emptiness and open spaces but a claustrophobic cast of characters. Maybe, as some have suggested, this would make more sense if I had any familiarity with Texas.
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Re: Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

Postby FranW » 11 Apr 2011, 13:28

I got a few chapters in, but I just couldn't get interested in it. Not really sure why. It may reflect my present stress levels, so I'll try to give it another go in a month or so.
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Re: Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

Postby wildlx » 12 Apr 2011, 10:19

As I had hinted previously I didn't like the book much. It started well but I soon became uninterested. I couldn't care less about Micaela and the lack of tension (I'm at odds with Proof here) in the story didn't help. More, the fact that she kept giving hints at the future besides helping remove the tension irritated me a lot. Some points:

The Spanish - I'm one of the people that could understand it without needing the dictionary. A lot of the Spanish used is not needed at all. When needed to show a change in the language used, a translation in a footnote should be given. I liked the name of the horse: Lágrimas (the same word as in Portuguese) aka Tears.

- The author is a bit pedantic and uses literary references. I remember I thought it rather contrived that Clara was reading Dante. More, she hints at similarities between Micaela's story and Cervante's Don Quixote. I've never read Don Quixote and only know bits about the story. However, it may explain why, like Don Quixote, Micaela goes on a knight-errand in a horse and changes her name and look; the fact that Micaela keeps meeting the same people and the drug/alcohol-induced imaginary/dream-like sequences. For example, at the end of the book starting with her stay with the Indians and ending in jail, I wondered whether things were really happening or whether it was just a figment of Micaela's imagination. This is particularly obvious at the beginning of the saloon scene where she wins the deed to her farm.
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Re: Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

Postby Proofrdr » 12 Apr 2011, 10:54

Let's call them dream sequences, however induced. ;)

My problem with them is that there's nothing really bringing them all together into a clearly articulated theme. It's vaguely like The Odyssey...in deerskin. She takes the hero's journey--she's goes to hell and sees her dead father, goes from place to place killing people, has a magical experience of sorts with the Indians (Circe's Island?), is caught, escapes, and finally achieves goodness and purity in a convent. She loses everything, but unlike Odysseus, reclaims nothing and, frankly, learns nothing. I confess, I've tried to parse it out, but I still don't know what the book means.
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Re: Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

Postby Baker » 12 Apr 2011, 16:07

Yes, Proof. The book seemed so disjointed that I kept thinking there had to be some underlying theme(s) that I wasn't seeing. But I didn't find any by the time I finished, and the ending didn't encourage me to continue spending mental time with the book.

(I guessed the horse name from the similarity to the Italian. Oddly, tears comes up a lot in opera. ;) ) Interesting, Wild, that you didn't think much of the Spanish was necessary. At least I didn't miss anything by not understanding it, then.

Yes, there was mention of Don Quixote. :thinking: Anyone else comment on that?
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Re: Book1: Forgetting the Alamo

Postby grewgirl » 12 Apr 2011, 16:38

Oddly enough Don Quixote is on my list of books that I "really should have read by now" so I cannot comment on any similarities. I thought it odd that the ghost of Oscar told her to read Hamlet and Othello to understand Jed and Rove. I couldn't figure out if the ghost was her subconscious creation or not, and if it was (and she hadn't read Hamlet) how would she know to read it to understand someone?

I tend to forget that those works have been around for so long.
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