Saturday, April 9, 2011

Anita Diamant's Last Days of Dogtown and Mary Karr's Poetry

I'm about halfway through this one.  It's a slippery smooth read written solely in 3rd person limited as it follows its characters.  Essentially a character study as it follows them, using what scant information we have to ground the otherwise unknown characters.  We know the names, Wharf's suicide, the almost-definite whoring of some of the women, the definite drunkenness of many of the townspeople, the drudgery and dissolution of the people and the locale.  Forever in the background, but as much a character as the actual characters, is the isolation, the barren and rocky land, the draw of the area to people who are different, or down on their luck, or just plain unlucky or destitute.  I'm not a fan of the writing style, though this is a good read and Diamant gets away with it, because it's essentially a plotless aggregate of chapters that gasps in spurts of time, without a central mystery, story, or anything else to ground it.  The chapters could be separate short stories with usually no, or at times a little, to hold them together.  Maybe this one is grounded in a central theme, which is that of isolation and destitution.  In other words, the mystery isn't why the place became a ghost town, but is instead a mystery of why they stayed for so long to begin with.  This book is available on Amazon for less than two bucks.  I also bought Mary Karr's fourth book of poems, Sinners Are Welcome, on Amazon for almost the same price.  Recommended.  The language is direct, like her memoirs, and surprisingly poetically unpoetic.

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