Wednesday, March 31, 2004


I'm really disappointed with An Obvious Enchantment, by Tucker Malarkey. The book jacket promises a story as follows:

Tangled in a mystery whose clues lurk in the pages of the Koran, and transported into a world where women are possessed by spirit husbands and fresh curses are whispered over tea, Ingrid is forced to realize that there are many things she does not know about this man who inhabits her dreams and haunts her mind. With the help and hindrance of Finn Bergmann, the enigmatic son of the founder of Salama, she begins to uncover a web of alarming incidents. Templeton's research has carried him to the hot core of the island's darkest confrontation. How far will he go in his passion for the truth? What is he willing to do to protect his newfound faith — and where has he gone? Ingrid embarks on a quest that opens her heart and threatens to unravel her mind.

Bullshit. There is no real mystery, no insight into the Koran, no mysticism, no unraveling of a legend, no web of alarming incidents. It is not "epic." It barely involves us in Professor Templeton's research; it's about Ingrid's love life. This is not a quest novel; it's a fucking romance.

Reminds me of the sort of airy-fairy crap I probably considered writing in my early 20s about my "profound" revelations about self and relationships through my unique experience of "falling in love" and my exemplary insight into different cultures on my travels (read: short vacations to a few places and under circumstances that a very few people may have considered slightly unusual).

Although a reasonable sense of place is evoked and I found myself actually caring what happened to some of the characters, the writing is bad ("Bougainvillea was trained to climb the bright outer walls, its intense pink flowers catching the eye like jewelry.") and the ending is stupid.

Also, the copyeditor chose to show the possessive of nouns ending in "s" with a mere apostrophe ("Gus' excuses," rather than "Gus's excuses"). I really hate that.

(Why would anyone named "Malarkey" not change their name?)

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