Time Off For Good Behavior

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Sunday, July 03, 2005
by Lani Diane Rich (#21)

First, some background: I saw Lani Diane Rich at a book reading with Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. They were both charming and funny - so I was predisposed to like them both. I've already talked about Baty's book somewhere on this blog. (here.).

Rich was at the reading because she had used Nano as a springboard to publication - she wrote the first draft in 25 days and spent the following year lengthening and polishing her work. Then she found an agent and got it published! Good for her, and I mean that sincerely. She was on my mind during one of my library rambles and I found her book on the shelf. A Sign!

I read it, and I've got to say I wasn't crazy about it, which surprised me. I didn't like the heroine for the first 100 pages of the book (and for a first-person narrator, that's a LONG TIME),

Why didn't I like this book very much? I didn't hate it by any means, but when the heroine entered a coma on page 6, I was thinking oh, thank god. Maybe her cousin/friend/whoever will be less of a pain in the ass. Not that heroines should be sweet and good and seeking to be loved by all - I like a snarky, wiseass, screwup first-person narrator as much as the next person. For example - Sparkle Hayter's Robin Hudson is just such a creature, and she is fantastic.

Something about Wanda Lane just did not click with me - I could empathize that she had screwed up her life AND been screwed over by life, but was trying to work her way out of it. I respect that - I just didn't like Wanda. I liked most of the other characters (although one of my major quibbles about how her insta-best friend is introduced. That newspaper ad thing was LAME). I don't think that the romantic climax was earned at all - she spent 7/8ths of the book running away from the romantic interest - again, that's fine, but don't ask me to buy the quick resolve at the end. bleh. I'm not explaining this at all well. One of my other problems was what seemed like the constant invocation of Walmart. Why? Why? Why Walmart? I mean, I get it - lots of people shop there, but why mention it so many times? Isn't "the store" sufficient? I think I may be making Walmart my scapegoat here.

Despite not really liking the main character, by the last 1/3 - 1/4 of the book, the story really started chugging along and I was turning pages like nobody's business. I understand she has a new book out and I will give it a read. Maybe Wanda and I were just incompatible.
2 comments on "Time Off For Good Behavior"
  1. >>Why Walmart? I mean, I get it - lots of people shop there, but why mention it so many times? Isn't "the store" sufficient? I think I may be making Walmart my scapegoat here.<<

    Personally, I think Walmart should be made a scapegoat as often as possible. It's not like it is unjust. They are evil. If Satan bought discount, I'm sure he would shop there in support of them.

  2. I know! Have you seen that ad where they talk about how many millions of miles their crap travels and how many hands touch it? "all to bring you the lowest prices." All it does is bring home how poorly everyone involved must be paid.

    Not that any of this was mentioned in the book - (or should have been - I would have pulled out even more hair), but it definitely colored what I was reading. Then I felt guilty (as is my way) for being such a lefty coastal urbanite UNTIL I remembered that Jennifer Crusie also writes exclusively (so far) in smallish town Ohio, and I have never had that "I just don't get it because I am a lefty coastal urbanite" feeling when I was reading her stuff.


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