July 29, 2010

Passage **

** Passage, Connie Willis, 2001

It is with a heavy heart that I give this book two stars, having been so taken with To Say Nothing of the Dog. I was prepared to like this book, expected to like it. But pretty much all it had going for it was a very clever premise. At 780 pages, it is at least 400 pages too long, if not 500.

It's kind of like this. What if someone wrote a book in which:

The first 250 pages describe someone trying to remember where she put her car keys, and then when she finally figures it out, the next 300 pages describe her trying to remember why she wanted the car keys. Mixed in with all this are hundreds of trivial details irrelvant to the stakes of the story, many of which are cyclical or maddeningly repetitious events.

Then 20 pages of frantic attempts to locate a person to tell him why she wanted the keys, with a rehash of all the distractions and dead ends that have been going on for 550 pages, culminating in a shocking event that seems like it should end the book, but on a completely unsatisfying note. But it doesn't end. There are still 220 pages to go, enough to make a decent, if small, novel.

And what happens in the last 220 pages? The second person tries to reconstruct the movements/ideas the first person did/thought during the middle 300 pages in an effort to figure out why she wanted the car keys.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Exactly.

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