March 17, 2003

Bee Season, by Myla Goldberg

The story of a Jewish guy who gets into mysticism without anything resembling a firm grounding in Jewish tradition or practices, with the predictable result being that he gets everything wrong and his family falls apart.

...well, okay, that's not the way the author intended it to be read, but that is sort of what I got out of it.

There's also this whole bit about spelling bees, and I must say that I'd expect a book about words not to misuse both "enormity" and "momentarily" along the way. (Quite jarringly, in the latter case: "The smile that appears momentarily erases years of report card trauma." What she means is that the smile appears a moment later. What she writes is either that the smile flickers onto his face for a fleeting instant, or that the smile erases her trauma for a fleeting instant. It takes much longer than a fleeting instant to untangle the syntax, figure out what she had in mind, and consider throwing the book across the room.)

Still, it must be granted that the book is generally well-written, although it skips around perspectives and time periods in a sometimes frustrating manner and end in the middle of nowhere.

It ain't bad. But it ain't great either. I can't recommend it.

Posted by Shmuel at March 17, 2003 6:12 PM