reviewing the nature of water and air...


Ok... I'm on a break. Funny how I take a break from writing an academic paper to write a blog post. Most people I know would probably leave the computer and go and drink some tea or coffee with a friend, but I'm kind of limited seeing that I have two children under my care (one of which refuses to go to sleep I might add). So instead I'm drinking iced tea and typing up this post... which my friends and family can read later while drinking their tea, coffee, or beverage of their choice. That's the beauty of asynchronous communication dearies.

Anyhow, I finished reading
The Nature of Water and Air by Regina McBride last night. I started it on Saturday... got about halfway through it in a couple hours and then I read for another hour on Sunday and for forty minutes or so last night. I just thought I'd share some thoughts about it since I've got some mixed feelings regarding the novel. I haven't quite decided whether I like it or not.

The novel has its merits... it started out strongly and was a compelling read. The author McBride has a nice lyrical style of writing and she created an interesting set of characters with an equally interesting story line. However, her novel falls flat (or short if you prefer) on a few levels. The most obvious weakness that I noticed was McBride's tendency to rush things. The novel stretched out over many years and many times throughout the novel the transition of time seemed awkwardly composed. It may just be my personal preference, but similarly themed novels that I've read in the past had more consistency and the passage of time did not seem so contrived. I just got the sense from this novel that we would jump several years in the main characters life just to get to the next stage in her life as quickly and with as little explanation as possible.

Another major weakness was how characters would appear out of nowhere and then disappear without any closure. Only one character remained throughout the entire story... and that was the narrator. Everyone else either died or committed suicide in the sea, never came back after a page or two of dialogue with the main character, or disappeared after some kind of sexual incident (like the lesboerotic nipple suckling incident on the third floor, or sex incident on the third floor, or incestuous incident in the caravan). The plot seems kind of ridiculous when you look at it in fragmented sections like that, and it is to some extent, but the book had such potential.

All in all, I think it is McBride's prose that redeems the book for me. She really has a lovely style of writing, she just has to work on her plot and character development. I think of her novel as a weak combination of two other books that I've read, Ann Marie McDonald's Fall on Your Knees and Maeve Binchy's Glass Lake. Fall on Your Knees takes care of the lesbian, incest angle and Glass Lake covers the absentee mother and Irish connection. Both are much better books as far as the consistency of their plot and character development. The Nature of Water and Air is a good book, but in the end I'm glad that it was lent to me and that I didn't buy it at the store. That reminds me... the last book that I purchased was Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma. I picked it up in the Vancouver airport when I was on my way to Cowtown in December. On that not I just thought I'd mention that some sister of mine (you know who you are number 7!) is taking her sweet time in sending it back to me.

Anyhow, that's enough of a break for now. I had to stop writing for a while to make the disobient child sleep. All is quiet and my iced tea is finished, so it's back to writing my paper.