Our critics, all suffering from extremely short attention spans, open random books in the library or bookstore and review the first line, paragraph and page (if it's really good). If we find we can't put it down, we might just review the whole first chapter. When we stumble upon a wonderful beginning, we read to the end to see if good writing really does go all the way.
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.
Oh, this reminds one of how Charles Dickens began a novel or two. This sweet and short three-sentence paragraph ends better than it began.
The Golem's master...had smuggled her aboard in a crate and hidden her among the luggage.
This is a little confusing. How could life began in the steamship when the Golem has just been smuggled onto the steamship? Shouldn't life have begun for Golem while being smuggled onto the steamship? Damn it, does this mean I've been hooked and must read on?
Anyway, what follows is some expository stuff about some furniture maker's son, not particularly fascinating or gripping, though who knows, once I care who these people are, I might want to flip back to the beginning and re-acquaint myself with some life history. Not.
The fourth paragraph begins with something that got my attention, akin to how someone else's cell phone ringing would.
The wife was the larger problem.
Now I'm asking a real question: is she fat? and I want to read on for a bit more because I like Al Bundy type fat jokes. Unfortunately, what follows is some more expository stuff.
Further in the paragraph: Women were disinclined to be alone with him.
Personally, I'd be disinclined to use that word: disinclined.
By page two we get to some dialogue. The first thing actually said in this book with a cool cover?