12 January 2011
Book 2: Annabel
Author: Kathleen Winter
Publisher/Year: House of Anansi Press / 2010
Date Finished: 8 January 2011
Source/Format: Borrowed / Print
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Challenges: Take A Chance, GLBT(Q) Challenge,
The Short and Sweet of It
When a baby is born both male and female, a decision is made. The baby is named Wayne, constructed male, given pills, raised as a boy, and all without his knowledge until a traumatic event forces the issue. A fascinating subject with interesting characters, but I just could not get in to this one.
A Bit of a Ramble
I was just bored. I know I should have enjoyed this one: the subject is fascinating and important, covering intersexuality and gender construction. And yet, I was just bored. My problem may have been with the setting. The story takes place in Labrador, a community of woodsy-type men who spend months away from home on traplines while the women stay at home and well, do those things women are supposed to do. You know, clean, cook, raise children, gossip, have affairs, and the such not. I think I was supposed to admire the simplicity of life and the beauty of the landscape, but I just found myself not caring, skimming passages in an effort to just get through the story.
Or maybe my problem was that I was spread too thin. There is a handful of primary characters in the story, each one interesting and unique, and yet I never felt like any one of them was ever fully developed. The father's a melancholy, poetic, distant man who admires and feels at home in nature. The mother is a pathetic (not meant in a derogatory manner) woman with no backbone who feels the possibility of a wasted life. The best friend is an aspiring opera singer who loses her voice. The mentor is a fascinatingly strong woman who travels the globe finding postcards of bridges. And of course, our protagonist is an intersex child raised as a boy who can feel the girl inside him. Fascinating, fascinating characters. The story flips from one the other in an effort to, I think, paint a picture of life, and while I do enjoy this sort of portraiture-style writing (as in Cranford), the lack of detailed action really bothered me with this book. And so, I just never really connected with any of the characters and never felt like they were real people.
I am clearly in the minority with this one, however, a blogger I very much admire loves this book. Amy from Amy Reads says "The writing is exquisite. It really is beautiful. I usually read through a book quite quickly… but with this one I kept re-reading passages, and wanting to set it down to consider lines, and make it last as long as possible." And it even made her list of Best of 2010: Fiction!
Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind to read this one and a re-reading at a later date is in order. But for now, this is being marked as Accept. Honestly, I would have put Avoid if I wasn't a wee bit concerned that my state of mind may have been partially to blame.
Question: Have you ever read and really disliked a book only to read it at a later time and love it?
Disclosure: Annabel made the short list for the Indie Lit Awards: GLBTQ and I am a panelist for that category. This review in no way reflects which of the shortlisted books will get my vote for best of 2010.