Saturday, October 6, 2007

Reveiw - Catherine Gilbert Murdock - Dairy Queen

Yesterday I read Dairy Queen. I chose this book because I wanted to sound like I was writing a year eight book report it reminded me of an old anthology I really like, Confessions of a neo milkmaid.

It turned out to be nothing like confessions, it turned out to not even be australian. I had to learn this the hard way, after going "but country life isn't like that" I needed a walmart reference to go "Yep this isn't an Aussie book." This isn't what makes it bad.

The book is about a girl called DJ, who lives on her parents farm, and does all the work because her father hurt his hip. The blurb talks a lot about how people "learn to talk", which is fair enough, because the book does too. In fact, the entire plot of the story could be summed up as "DJ decideds to play football, and realizes that you need to talk to people to work out your problems." This isn't something I'm very interested in reading about. I think it's an important point to make, I just like books with a little more action.

Part of the reason for this may be because I have just been reading a writing manual called Scene and Structure, which talks about building tension by conflict, and by disaster. It also talks about having a clear story goal, and scene goals, but Dairy Queen doesn't do this at all. Thinks actually get better for DJ as the book goes on. So while I liked her well enough, I knew that things would work out ok, so it didn't really keep me gripped to the plot.

The other thing that I didn't like is how the main character often felt the need to explain things, including adressing the reader in the second person, eg "you must be thinking". I didn't like this at all, and not only because I don't like being told what to think. While it may be a way to give the character a little more voice, at it is explained who the 'you' is at the end of the plot, I didn't like it because it's not the way that I read. I like to immerse myself so completely in a book that I inside the main characters head, in some ways I am the main character, but when someone adresses me, I regain that aweness that there is a me outside the book, and lose that intensity.

Before you think that I hate the book completely, I do have to admit that I finished it in a day. It's not a terrible book, it just does things I don't like. After reading a little more about the author, I have to admit that I have a lot of respect for her. I respect anyone that can write a good first novel, and get it published - espececially when they wrote a novel to explain a vivid moment in a dream.

The book does have some good things going for it, the characters are interesting, and i do like the points she makes. A lot of people love this book, and I really hope it's message finds the audience that need it.

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