“I am a writer myself (non-fiction, so not really comparable) so I know better than most people that writing is rewriting and most of all scrapping words and sentences out again. and again. and again. In reading Hempel it is very visible that she spent a lot of time on every single sentence. That all of them are formulated and formed with the utmost care, that there is not a word too many. I admire that, but I think it is also the problem of this book, because it SHOWS. Most writers do this endless rewriting and rephrasing to get a result that appears effortless and flows naturally because that is what most readers will like best. In Hempels stories you feel the labour behind every word and that makes it a bit tiring.
I did like the story about the vet´s widow and I thought the first one about hearing your heartbeat beautifully written, but to me they felt like writing exercises. Very well done exercises, but not really leading to something. The lack of plot has been mentioned here before and that bothered me as well. I kept hoping it would all come together in some brilliant way, but instead the stories just fizzled out and that was that.
I think my biggest issue with this book is the complete lack of tempo. It is probably done on purpose -as someone here in this discussion phrased it: the stories are like "snapshots"- but it doesn´t make for very exciting reading. The main reason why I love Chuck Palahniuk so much is because of the incredibly high tempo his novels have, even when the plot doesn´t move forward at all. With him you always have the feeling that a whole book is written in one long rant-session where he just let himself deflate without ever reading back. The complete oposite of how Hempel reads. I do realise that Palahniuk probably does just as much rewriting and cutting out as Hempel but you just don´t feel that struggle while reading it.”
Phileine wrote this review Friday, September 9, 2011.