The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Story of Forgetting, by Stefan Merrill Block

This is another cranky book review, second in a series of three. I have several really great books lined up for review, but I thought I’d get the stinkers out of the way all at once, going from worst to so-so.

The Story of Forgetting isn’t actively bad, it’s just not very good. Once again, I am reminded of the importance of subplots and the role they play in adding dimension to stories with straightforward, predictable plots. “Forgetting” has a straightforward, predictable plot and one subplot. That is not enough to keep it interesting.

In fact, my main complaint about this book is that it’s not very interesting. It’s extremely well-written, but strong writing alone isn’t enough to carry a book. Here’s the plot: people who have a form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in their families may or may not be trying to find each other. It needs to be fleshed out beyond that, and it isn’t.

Yet this book sold well, and I’m sure there are many readers who think the story is moving, etc., etc. Fine. I got about 2/3 of the way through it and couldn’t stand it anymore. I skimmed the rest of the book to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I wasn’t.

I’m going to keep Block in mind, however. He’s young, and if the early success doesn’t go to his head and make him think he knows it all, he could be a very good writer some day. I just don’t think he’s there yet.

Also, he should do better research next time out. Yes, it’s apparent he studied Alzheimer’s disease like a true scholar. But there are some unintended bloopers in other areas. For example, a rather humble character who has a small farm confesses to killing a cow on his birthday, as if he’s going to have one steak, then eat lightly the rest of the year. That is unintentionally hilarious. I just Googled “how much meat comes from a heifer,” and the very first link that showed up indicates that a 1,200 pound heifer produces about 429 pounds of meat. That’s about 8 pounds a week, which is not “eating lightly” by any stretch of the imagination. It also requires butchering capacity and substantial cold storage. There were a few other inaccuracies that took my attention away from the story.

So I’m not recommending this book. It’s boring. If that doesn’t bother you and you just want to read beautiful writing, have at it.

As for animals, there’s a sad old horse named Iona who grows old and does what old horses do. But there’s nothing beyond that. So this book is SAFE for animal lovers.


August 1, 2009 - Posted by | Book Reviews, death of a parent | ,

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