Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Book #43 of 2011: How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Sasa Stanisic (Sorry, buddy, but I'm not gonna figure out how to make those accents. If you were French, though, we'd be set. Alors.)
NOTE: I read an advance reader's copy of this book from...2006 or something...so, maybe they fixed some of the things I didn't like about it by the time it came out for real.
I feel like there was some good stuff in here, but as a whole it didn't work for me. If done well, time jumps and narrator jumps can be useful/interesting/etc., but in this case, I ended up confused enough that I just wanted to plow through and finish rather than figuring out what exactly was happening. And, there were just too many barely introduced characters to keep track of.
The narrator (usually?), Aleksander, begins the story as a boy in Yugoslavia. By the end, there is no Yugoslavia. I am confident that there are a million good stories in that interim, but I couldn't connect with the characters or follow what was happening with the war [It did occur to me that I wasn't supposed to be able to follow the war as a sort of statement about the war, but, even if that's the case, I'm not a fan].
Also, the love story aspect of it felt very...manufactured. We barely met the girl but become immersed in an obsession with finding her. Yet, the best parts to me were when Aleksander was writing letters to her rather than his usual disjointed narration.