Saturday, January 05, 2013
the casual vacancy is a cuttingly mean book about a small town
i had long been on the waiting list for j.k. rowling's casual vacancy at my local library. right before new year's eve, my turn came and i picked up the book. i'd read that the book was a major departure from the harry potter series - a book for adults, not children. well, i finished it yesterday and it was indeed a departure.
it's a mean-spirited book. it feels like rowling was taking revenge on a whole lot of people in some small town who she felt had wronged her. there are no redeeming characters, not much of a story, no real resolution of what little story there is and no redemption for anyone at the end. in short, it's a disappointment.
that said, in some ways, it's a book i wish i'd written. i think anyone who grew up in a small town or lives in one has dreams of exposing all of the pettiness of various people for the pettiness that it is. and she definitely does that. what's sad tho', is that she comes off petty herself in doing so. a writer like jonathan franzen does it much more elegantly. his book, freedom, also had a lack of any redeeming characters, but somehow it didn't make him seem as uncharitable as rowling comes off with this book. possibly because his story was just better. the casual vacancy doesn't actually have much of a story.
i guess i expected better of rowling - her harry pottery characters are such well-drawn characters and the stories so well-plotted and drawn. i knew this wasn't going to be harry potter, but i thought it would be good. it wasn't. i'm just glad i got it from the library and that i didn't buy it.
have you read it? what did you think?