Thursday, May 23, 2013

Constricting Birdcage-Type Week

Sometimes I think that constriction allows for a certain freedom. For instance, this past week or two, I've been positively strangled by apathy and stress - with an languid and stifling unwillingness to get out of bed and actually go to class, punctuated by high-octane spasms and jolts of ferocious energy as I pound out a three page paper I don't even have the prompt for - and yet, I've still had my down time: I've fallen in love... with 8tracks, a music playlist-sharing site. I've eaten great food... and by great food, I mean approximately six or seven cookies courtesy of our wonderful chef, Doris. And I've read a book.

If there was anything that helped fuel some of those reverts back to work, it was this book. Because no matter how much I can nitpick apart someone else's book, at least she's written one. Meanwhile, I couldn't even manage to pick up a highlighter and skim through a couple chapters of Astronomy.

I'm not going to pull apart this book by the strings in my review, mind you. It's a solid novel; one, that in retrospect, I like a lot more than when I was stuck in the middle of it. It's just a couple of elements that made life even more difficult for me in the past week than I needed.

This story, The Lovebird, by Natalie Brown, is about a young girl named Margie, a freshman in college, who gets entangled romantically in the life of her Latin teacher, joins a renegade animal rights team, gets in hot water with the FBI, and flees to a Crow reservation in Montana, all because she's deeply empathetic, and gets a twinge in her left ovary (I know) whenever she comes across an animal in pain. That's as much as I'm going to say about our insanely weird plot.

For starters, the writing itself is both incredible and exasperating. There's an amazing mastery of adjectives - someone must have a significantly powered inner thesaurus, Natalie Brown! - and a clever and whimsical use of alliteration in places that I really enjoyed. However, this also lead to storyline bottlenecks in places, where it became so hard to simply breathe in the words themselves - got so choked up in descriptions and repetitive descriptions, etc. - that I had to set the book down and practically air out my head. Love, love, love the vivid and flowery descriptions in some places... not so effective in others.

Speaking of flowery descriptions, I really have to emphasize that parts of this book are magical. The heroine, herself, I can't really like that much, but the way she speaks and thinks is lovely. I could almost see why our Woody Allen-ish beginning love interest could find her to be so "winsome" and "precious" (like I said, Woody Allen). I mean, almost. She actually was a terrific whiner and oblivious and seriously morally ambiguous and just... awkward, even though I hate that word. But her words were just gorgeous, a whole lot of the time.

I don't know how much I can fault for personality, however, because she was just a romantic. Living la vie boheme, she was running around falling in love with much older men, interjecting Latin phrases everywhere, obnoxiously vegan, and in love with everything floral... it was only appropriate that it spilled into her language. At other parts, however, she filled the role of a snobby hipster to its brim, while others, she was Zooey Deschanel in a Lolita role. Simultaneously perfectly sweet nearing on saccharine, as well as utterly lost and shake-my-head naive. I had trouble with her. And she has a weird thing for older guys with kids, even though she's not yet out of college.

The main interest it held for me, surfaced when she was forced to flee, leave her home and friends behind, and live on a Crow reservation in Montana. Probably because I basically live next door to the Puyallup reservation, and nearly every time there are Native Americans depicted in popular literature, it is either unrealistic, cliched, or overly romanticized. I still think that this particular depiction was over-romanticized (even though our heroine will claim again and again that it's not), but it's better than most offenders.

In total, the entire book was way too hipster-vegan-Woody Allen- romance - indie- weird. And I am having trouble, in retrospect, figuring out whether I actually liked it or not. I guess, for that, I'll rate it in the middle of the scale: a 2.5, for Margie. But because I'm so short on time, I really can't elaborate more than that.

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