Friday, June 6, 2014

To Be Continued...Volume Two by Gordon J.H. Leenders

I didn't know this was a "volume two" until after I read it; however, it doesn't really seem to matter. The set-up of this novel is clever, straddling the line between novel and short-story collection through chapters that connect through the last line of each. It reminded me of that improv game where you do a scene and then someone yells "freeze!" and then they enter the freeze frame and turn it into a new scene.

The story (or stories) follows different people each chapter, from Montreal to Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Hamilton: a woman contemplates having an affair; a couple discusses 9/11 while overlooking Niagara Falls; a group of television addicts leave their meeting to provide first aid; a group of homeless people eat food from the most desirable dumpster in town; a man mentors his son in the art of pickpocketing, and so on. Each story picks up from the last line of the one before it, and none are really resolved; I guess you would have to read volume three for that. Really the author is writing several short stories which are all stretched across multiple books; rather an ingenious project.

I just wish I had liked the writing more. Some of the stories had a lot of potential but I had a hard time relating to or caring about the characters; I feel like when you only give your readers a short time in which to get attached, you have to take care to make the characters extra compelling, and most of them were not. It makes me wary when a male author tries to get into the head of too many female characters; I found the majority of them here to be rather shallow.

Mostly for me it was a style issue; I think if this style of writing is more to your taste, you might really enjoy this book. Toronto is not really a big player; it's more of a sort of central place that the characters and storylines revolve around. In the end I'd say it's probably worth a read, but for such a clever layout I found the book itself somewhat forgettable.

Three CN Towers out of five.

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