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This book takes patience, but the results are worth the time and energy invested. The story line is original and the protagonist is interesting, but throughout most of the book the secondary characters seem vague and the chronology can appear muddy. This is not helped by Choi's style which tends towards complex sentences and sudden shifts in plot lines, even though her writing is rich in introspection and provocative sensitivity. All of this dreaminess can frustrate the reader, and I found myself rewinding frequently. It all clears up in the end, however, and I give this book four out of five stars, because there seem to be so many loose ends and blind alleys everywhere, because so many of the characters seem ill-defined, shadowy, and many of them not really likable, and because there is an undertow of political correctness, which doesn't seem integral to the story itself. However this read does rate high on my list, though, for psychological suspense, despite its meanderings. And, if you like following a narrative without really knowing what is really going on until the last minute then this one is for you!
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
A marvelous book: on one level it's about a unibomber-type event and how a math professor becomes a person of interest in the investigation, on another it is how a man who defines himself as American is defined as "Asian" or "immigrant" or "suspicious" by casual colleagues and neighbors. Choi's deft exposure of subtle, unintentional racism lurking under the surface was shocking to me as an Anglo- and felt all too true. But that's just one of many threads, not a lecture to the reader- just one of many threads making up the life of a sad old man. Rather than a police procedural, it is a character study, it builds slowly and like the Sixth Sense, we too are mislead by Lee's spotty memories, with a great payoff at the end. The Village Voice compared the character to Eleanor Rigby, very apt.
I picked up the book as a computer science professor who had been in a math department, curious to see if this caught at all the rhythms of academia. It was a spot-on characterization of everything I saw in my old department.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful