Daily Archives: March 2, 2009

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

I should probably stay away from New England doomed love stories that feature supernatural phenomena (see here.) But I tried again and despite Brunonia Barry’s best efforts (isn’t this a spectacular first name?) I just could not get into The Lace Readeror the heads of people who believe they can read the future in lace. Lace!  I’ve heard of crystal balls and coffee grounds but lace?

The mannerist Lace Reader Manual excerpted in the headers of each chapter rubbed me the wrong way for each new chapter, reminding me of the inaneness of the whole idea. So I had little patience for the disturbed woman searching for the past of her mysterious twin in her dead not-quite-grandmother’s house. Not that  the novel is devoid of promising characters. The wife-beater turned fundamentalist preacher, while evil, provides a variety of evil doings from coast to coast. And the good cop who tries to bring order to Salem, Massachusetts, with its fake witches and tourism dependent on said witches is perfectly sketched in his ordinary, level-headed behavior.  But that was not enough to save the novel for me.

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The Way We’ll Be by John Zogby

The author of The Way We’ll Be sets out to show us our future as a country but alas, his strong roots as a political pollster show and we are treated to the usual two irksome sins of pollsters. One is what statisticians call fishing expeditions: let’s collect umpteen facts, run correlations on all of them without any hint of a working hypothesis, and then blab on and on about the amazing cause-and-effect phenomena we discovered. Sorry, just not valid thinking!

The other annoyance is the assigning of (in this case) American people into finer and finer categories of age, gender, occupations, and much other trivia to invent subgroups that believe in particular causes. I understand how political pollsters may need to function that way to earn their consulting money but I loathe the divisiveness of the process.

All that to said I did not like the book.

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Filed under Non fiction