The Book that Interrupted Quilting and Posting

City on FireCity on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although 900 pages is overwhelming, it was a good read.

The first three or four chapters introduce readers to various interrelated groups of people; other characters are introduced along the way. At one point I counted 8 subplots going. More were added.

As you might imagine, that made for a lot of cliff hangers–but they weren’t really intense till the last 150 pages. There were a few times I wanted to say, Just get on with it. But generally the pacing was effective. Time was not linear. Some background was withheld till the last 300 or so pages. There were two major sections that provided back story. There were some sections set in the future.

Most background bits and character sketches were relevant and interesting. More for understanding character than furthering plot, though some did move the plot along. It was fun to see a scene reappear from someone else’s perspective or as background to something else going on. I am sure it happened more than I recognized.

Interludes likewise provided insight into characters and added to plot: a letter from father, never sent, two communications from a son/grandson. There was an article written by one of the journalist characters split into two–it provided characterization and background, and the second part moved plot. However, readers got to see characters reading it and reacting before we got to read that portion of the article. There was a fanzine published by one of the characters. Some of it was important to the plot, some was extraneous but added atmosphere.

It is a book for enjoying the journey more than finding out whodunnit.

Most of the plots were tied up. Some resolutions I’d anticipated, some were very surprising. A good mix. I have noticed a tendency in current fiction to explain how things turn out years beyond the ending; I prefer the older suggestion/hints approach to the future.. This novel projected for a couple of characters, but it was not excessive.

Characters were well drawn. I can think of only one that was totally unlikable. Most were sympathetically presented, even some I’d not have liked if meeting them in real life.

The descriptions captured mood of the city and of the people. Some were interesting for themselves. my favorite was of the subway near the end. I’ll leave you to find it.

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2 responses to “The Book that Interrupted Quilting and Posting

  1. Yikes! I am confused enough by daily life without 8 subplots! Though maybe subplots in real life ARE the problem…

  2. dezertsuz

    That sounds interesting, but I know that beyond two or three POV, I get very annoyed. I’m glad that it was worth your reading, since it was such a long one!

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