Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Book Review: Ghost by Alan Lightman

This book was on a list recommending it. Why, I do not know.

I thought this would be about a ghost. Instead, it turns out to be 'something David couldn't believe he saw' in the slumber room of a mortuary that David worked at.

Obviously, the book is from David's perspective. And let me tell you, David is one mucked up fella. And we read on and on and on and on about David's boring, depressing, brooding, thoughts throughout the 240 pages of this book.

At some point, I was bored to tears and glazed over paragraphs, not caring what they said because I could care less what I missed.

The book opens with David explaining how he couldn't believe what he saw in the slumber room. And this goes on for nearly the entire book -- the reader never finds out what he has seen until 3/4ths of the way in...and really, at that point, I didn't even care because I was so far into the book -- realizing the structure -- that no "ghost-like" creature was going to emerge from this (well, something does, but I won't give too much away just in case this is interesting for someone to pick up).

But the "I can't believe I saw something that I can't explain" goes on and it repeats itself throughout. Or David is questioned "Did you really see something?", followed by, "Do you _believe_ you saw something?" as if answering the first question has nothing to do with the second.

So there are the doubters and then there's David, who becomes upset with the doubters. And then we learn about David's insane ruminating. Hey, I do that too but I certainly don't make you read about it for 240 pages!! Good grief.

When I was ready to give up and allow my eyes to glaze the words, something interesting would happen. Deep thoughts about death, life, a life that didn't turn out the way it was planned, you know, deep down gut-wrenching thoughts that made me sad...and then, it would turn to the monotonous dribble that I had been reading. Throw in a relationship forming with the mortuary "family" and some physics professors (which the author is/was) and supernatural believers, and there's a complete bloody mess of a book.

I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about. Was the author striving to bring meaning to supernatural occurrences? Was he trying to dismiss it with science? Was he trying to send a message at all? Or was he just trying to tell a story? None of these touched on this book and after such great reads as Jane Eyre and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, this left me a little, well, displeased.

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