Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

"Are there not a thousand forms of sorrow? Is the sorrow of death the same as the sorrow of knowing the pain in a child's future? What about the melancholy of music? Is it the same as the melancholy of a summer dusk? Is the loss I was feeling for my father the same I would have felt for a man better-fit to the world, a man who might have thrown a baseball with me or taken me out in the mornings to fish? Both we call grief. I don't think we have words for our feelings any more than we have words for our thoughts."
 
As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  Originally posted a year ago. 

There are a lot of reasons why I loved and loathed A Doubter's Almanac. I loved it exclusively because the writing is beyond superb. I loathed it because it was full of something I'd read before and I didn't actually love the story. Which makes approximately no sense, I know. But here's the thing: Ethan Canin has a voice to be reckoned with in literature. No one's going to argue me on that one. He has a place in it and there's no doubt about it.


A Doubter's Almanac? It has all the makings of a novel that could have been. I am trying to find a way to put it all into words but the entire time I was reading it, I was annoyed by one thing or another only to be lulled in continuously by Canin's words. Despite my dislike for novel as a whole, his writing is the one thing that made me stick out until the bitter end and is what allows me to give his rating more than what I initially planned. It's a love-hate and it's the type of novel I will never, under any circumstances, pick up again.

A young woman commented her thoughts in her review and I feel as though it is the only way to express how I felt about the plot. You can find her review here.  "Deliver me from art about troubled men whose genius is used as an excuse for them to be assholes." Because, because, because, this is the only accurate description I can come up with when it comes to my general thought process. I'm all for providing us with an anti-hero but somehow, it just didn't work for me in this release--however, it is receiving a lot of praise and I can appreciate, respect, it. 

Ultimately, it just wasn't for me.

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