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madbkwm

madbkwm

Southland - Nina Revoyr So I wasn't really impressed with this novel. I felt like the writing was oftentimes heavy handed, the plot was transparent and everything was rather forced.

I get that Revoyr was trying to portray the full extent and continuum of racial cruelty, but when a book is this overwritten and so blatently constructed it loses its power. Instead of being lost in the story or upset by the truisms (and yes, these are serious crimes and they are and have always been and some say will always continue to be perpetrated by the in/powerful group against the out/disenfranchised group) that are displayed here, I was annoyed with her use of language. For example, we have "the day her family was divided" and Lanier's "sternness was loneliness, calcifed. The empty solitude on top of the mountain." as two easy examples of just pure blecch.

I was also annoyed that Curtis was Frank's son. My first thought (of course) when confronted with the will was that he is an illegitimate child (certainly obvious answer), but then Revoyr works hard to sidetrack the reader and yep, ultimately Curtis is just an illegitimate son. I know I say that rather flippantly, but I hope that illustrates just how little these characters managed to resonate with me.

I was no sure why Jackie's sexuality even needed to enter the picture. I think that Revoyr was trying to both round out the character and provide yet another example of minority groups, but I think this was unnecessary. The relationship between Jackie and Laura was not believable or interesting on any level; the sex scene between Jackie and Lanier was unnecessary and gratutious and this slighly too long novel could have been easily edited to leave all of that nonsense out.

The descriptive passage of the day of the riots (with the idea of the rioters as wind and storm) reminded me a bit of Eugeneides' passage in Middlesex describing Detroit during the race riots, but clearly Eugeneides was much better. The description of LA overall made me tink of Mosely's Ptolemy Grey but I'm not sure if that is just because of the whole black POV in southern CA.

Overall it was an easy, but not very compelling or poignant read.