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Would you try another book from Joel Dicker and/or Pierce Cravens?
I would not consider another book from either the author nor the narrator. Based on the NYT review, I gave this book a fair try, but the plot is so dumb and the characters are so absolutely unbelievable, that I just couldn't go on. It is really hard for me to imagine that anyone would have published such a ridiculous book.
What could Joel Dicker have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
The characters are ridiculous! All of them, from the fifteen-year-old to the late-twenties writer to the sixty-something author -- from the pastor-father to the chief of police -- sound like the same inarticulate teenager. How many times can an author expect his characters to say, "I love him/her SO much" without the readers gagging.
What didn’t you like about Pierce Cravens’s performance?
Are we just getting spoiled by the fact that so many readers now are such masters of dialog and character? Craven makes every character in this book -- young and old, male and female, educated and ignorant -- sound exactly the same -- like a slightly whiny 18-year old.
What character would you cut from The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair?
I think this is a weak book from beginning to end. Jenny's mother, the original owner of the cafe is particularly annoying for her implausible cruelty toward her husband and her absolute stupidity about her daughter. Seriously, who would invite friends to a big party to celebrate a daughter's relationship to someone which whom she's had a single date. You just couldn't trust anyone in this book -- they were all entirely nonsensical.
Any additional comments?
I had hoped for a "wry' (that's what the NYT reviewer said) light mystery to get me through some long days in the garden. I gave this a real try, but if a high school senior had turned this into me in a writing class, I'd have given it a C. And I'd have given the narrator an F.
16 of 20 people found this review helpful
This turns out to be a rather intricate story that begins innocently enough. Marcus Goldman, a young man who has struggled with self-esteem in high school so much, that he has re-invented himself to become "Marcus The Magnificent." But he gets this title (partly in his own mind) by doing things in which it is so easy to excel that he gets a lot of (undeserved) adoration from others. He vaguely feels himself to be a bit of a fraud.
However, when, as an adult, he finds himself faced with writer's block and a huge book contract to fulfill, he has to face his own fear of failure. So he goes back to Somerset, NH to consult with his old friend and mentor, Harry Quebert. Harry is a successful author whom Marcus turns to for support and encouragement, just at the time when the body of Nora Kellergan is discovered. It turns out that when Harry was 34 and Nora 15, they had had an affair. And then she disappeared and it is only now, years later, that the case is re-opened because the body has at last been found. Buried on his property.
This is a book that is interesting, held my attention for sure, but puzzling at some level. The story builds with a large number of suspects that grow as the story progresses, and the plot development and twists and turns--especially at the end, are probably what holds the book together.
However, I found the contrast of characters who were often meant to be amusing (but occasionally were simply silly or unbelievable) with this murder investigation not to work as well as I would have wished. Possibly the author tried to put too much into the book--I don't know.
What works very well, is his clever use of a "story within a story" technique, in which he has Marcus finally write the book that has eluded him, by investigating the murder of Nora, in order to free his old friend who is immediately suspected of having killed her, and then arrested. This provides lots of space for Joel Dicker to explore what it means to be a writer, the behind the scenes aspects of writing that a reader would not be privy to, and the interaction between writer and publisher. I found that part to be very interesting and unusual.
This is a good book, and appears to have received rave reviews from everywhere. I liked it, but I didn't think it rose to the 5 star level in any category. Now that I have finished it, I find myself ironically comparing this whole work to the original "Marcus the Magnificent"--who got a lot of praise by accomplishing something rather too easily. It is surely worth the read, and others may find it more of a blockbuster than I did. But I found the writing itself pretty plain (possibly due to translation) and some of the characters were just off-putting instead of humorous (as I think the author intended). I do recommend this book--these are just my own reactions to it. The story and mystery are quite well put together and overall, despite my discomfort with some characters, was a fun read (listen).
9 of 11 people found this review helpful