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I really loved Martel's "Life of Pi"--a fascinating and engaging story. I had hoped to indulge in more fascinating stories by this promising writer, but evidently he hadn't yet honed his writing skills when he wrote these stories. I found all of the stories in this collection to be tedious and never really leading to an interesting conclusion. The "Helsinki" novella was so depressing, it took real effort to get through it. The "Discordant Violin" story just lacked interest; it was perhaps too ambitious for Martel to try to describe the power of a musical experience in his (here) underdeveloped style, and the way the main character hounded John Morton afterwards was a weak device intended to allow the author to express the anguish of the Viet Nam war second-hand, and it really didn't make any sense to me. "Manners of Dying" was an interesting concept, but I found the repetition of the warden's letters unnecessary and irritating. The continuous "blah, blah, blah" in the background during the "Mirror" story was an especially irritating device, although not completely ineffective.
If you read "Life of Pi", quit while you're ahead. If you didn't, make sure to read it, because Martel really made a lot of progress beyond this book. I wouldn't recommend this book, however.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
Boring, self-indulgent and pretentious; but mostly boring. Don't waste your time.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful