I almost posted my spoilerific review, but I deleted it, because I'm pretty allergic to the spoiler box. Usually I think it's funny when people hit it when reviewing something that was written over fifty years ago – THE BOAT SINKS – but here, in something timely and specific, I think even doling out the spoilers under cover is uncool. Also, I'd pretty much blown the spoiler for myself because of the way I read – maybe I shouldn't, but I tend to go over all the forwards and afterwards and blurbs before I read, so I read Hope's explanatory afterward before I read the text. Sorry, K.I., I'm a shit. Also, I should probably say here before I really get into it that Ms. Hope generously sent me a copy of this book after I read Caris's review
, and after a Goodreads friendship with her for a while now. So, thanks, K.I., I totally owe you some cross-stitch or something. Do you have a favorite cuss? That always looks quite fetching in embroidered text. Oh, and one other minor thing: I went to search for this book, typing in “hector” the way one does when one is looking for a book titled “hector”, and for crying out loud, this is what I got.
Wtf goodreads search engine? Why are you so freaking bad? There is no reason I can think of why the first three books don't even have hector in either the title or the author's name, and why this book, which is actually, wholly, and with no other words titled “hector” should be on page freaking three of the search results. Stupid. Goodreads search, you suck beyond the telling of it.
Anyway, there's lots of ways to describe a book, but we reviewers tend to fall back on a series of images when something strikes us hard: cutting, razor-like, the cliché stiletto – which was first a knife, then a heel on a shoe, just f y linguistic i. This is a boning knife. Which is not to say the prose is sleek,
or any other steel-edged metaphoric – it's earthier than that, more stream-of consciousness. The knife is in the argument. I've been nursing a pet theory on stream-of-consciousness, and it's that while it is logical, the connectives don't lie straight in a fine hard edge to chop the argument down. It's a form of logic that values the connectivity of emotions as strongly as the connectivity of causality. And the logic of the emotion in this book is how closely disgust and empathy are related.
I read this in a sitting, out on the back porch, and I imagine this is the best way to encounter this book, gulped down in a whole moment. Not everything works in terms of storytelling: the sections of political speak felt forced and veered into a sort of satire that jarred with the personal tone of the rest of the book. There are other incidentals that worked much better: the man at the street corner, the interlude of the woman in the fish. And as dream-like and metaphorical as a lot of this was, I thought there should have been more digressions of this nature, maybe. There was a spine to the story, a single life trajectory, but the other thoughts, the other lives that put the central life in focus, this helped me form a more complete understanding. Then the knife hit me in the stomach.