Archive for August, 2014

thoughts on having finished eleanor catton’s “the luminaries”

August 6, 2014 8 comments


what am I meant to do with myself now?


these writers, they write these books and then leave us cold. is there any planning? here, have some heroin. ah, that’s all I have. there isn’t anymore. sorry.


not that I feel quite like that about the book. but it’s that thing of having lived in it for so long (even with breaks in between).


I can’t say I know exactly what I think of it now, but it is rhythmically impaired, that I know for certain. having that last scene is sweet, yes, but it doesn’t justify the preceding appendix.


also, really, the one moment which we were all most interested in (crosbie’s murder) is the one bloody moment in the entire hashing and rehashing that isn’t described.


still, I do like the story and the people. well, I don’t like anna, she annoys me and is a little pathetic, and for all the screentime devoted to her, I find her ill-drawn, somehow. I’m probably being overly critical. but I like every single one of the other characters. love to love and love to hate, and all the in-betweens. in fact, I don’t think her female characters terribly well-drawn. maybe it’s her way of writing? or my way of reading, which means that I easily fill in the gaps with the male characters? but, no, I think she paints them far more, pays more attention to them.


shepard’s wife? can just about picture her, thanks to her buck teeth, but then only in cartoonish terms, so it’s not really helpful.


lydia wells, who is initially fantastically drawn is treated very slapdash afterward. miss catton, just a few more touches of descriptive prose here and there. it was a bit too spare for me with her. for someone as duplicitous and conniving as her.


that’s perhaps why, really. she goes into interminable detail with all the male characters, all of whom (except for crosbie and emery) are essentially straightforward. even pritchard’s oh-so-conflicted psyche is actually just a simple dichotomy.


the female characters are much subtler and complicated and I feel she flounders with them a little. I simply, could not picture anna. maybe she tried to make her too many women at once? or impossibly mysterious and unfathomable and paradoxical, to the extent that she became unpicturable? whereas lydia and buckteeth are at least familiar types.


but, yes, anna got on my tits with her constant anguishing and her frail obstinacy.


all the others I loved. and hokitika. I’ll miss you.

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