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So this is what a fairytale for grownups looks like--full of the darkest horror with wishes for a happy ending. I had very much looked forward to this book as I am a great believer in the truths that can be learned from folktales, fairy tales, mythology and the like, but this attempt at a modern re-telling did not work especially well for me.
After a painfully slow start, the story gathers steam with the subway birth of a baby which eventually devolves into a nightmare experience of parenthood. Yes, parenthood does teach us much about ourselves--from newly discovered feelings of intense love and protectiveness, to feelings of alienation and horror at the degree of rage and even impulses to violence we are capable of feeling. In the manner of fairytales, LaValle externalizes these negative feelings, embodying them in monsters and their minions, making it possible to commit the most horrific of acts and still be the perfect parent. I suppose that the author intends to embody Emma's feelings of intense love for her baby while simultaneously feeling overwhelmingly alienated from both her child and husband (postpartum depression?) but I still find her response to these dark forces hard to accept.
I did enjoy the use of NYC to create a dreamlike setting and the use of technology as a backdrop. As for the narration, this is an occasion where the author would have been better leaving it up to others--fairly expressionless and with little effort to distinguish among the characters.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
I'm amazed that anyone can read so slowly. I had to adjust the audio to 1.5x and still it sounded close to normal speech. But the prose was expertly crafted and the story kept my attention, even when there seemed lapses in time or logic. I also bought the hardbound novel, switching back and forth between them, and I think I enjoyed reading it more than listening to the author.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful