Saturday, February 24, 2007

Waggling eyebrows

One of the pleasures of audiobooks, to my ears at any rate, is the chance you have to appreciate an author's words read out loud. (The literary critic -- and snob -- Harold Bloom said that a literary experience requires the text in front of you: ''Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear,'' he said in an article in the May 26, 2005 New York Times. Well, I guess you could read aloud sections to yourself if you wanted.) Anyway, I'm a really fast reader and so a writer's language is something I often skip over. An audiobook makes me hyper-aware of the language.

Yes ... this is all building up to a complaint: So when the language becomes jarring, it really detracts for me. Thus, listening one night this week to the last third of House of the Red Fish, the number of eyebrow waggling incidents went perilously high. I swear those island boys were waggling at each other right and left. It became extremely eye-rolling for me.

Also, I think of eyebrow waggling as kind of an adult expression ... but I can't say why.

But, it wasn't the eyebrows that ultimately killed this book for me, it was the one-note plot of raising Papa's boat from its scuttling. We were treated to the smallest detail of this operation, which -- quite frankly -- doesn't make for an very interesting story.

There was also a late-20th-century diversity moment when all the haoles rounded up by the young villain and racist Keet to prey on Tomi have a sudden and probably anachronistic change of heart and help him raise the sampan.

Ultimately a no vote for me.

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