Sea Oats

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dog Stars by Peter Heller

It never gets off the runway.

The 1940's and 1950's they didn't have Gen Y or Gen X. They didn't have hippies or yuppies. But they did have the beat generation. Hipsters, cool daddies. Like wow man. They met in dark smoke filled basement clubs and listened to cool poetry and showed their appreciation for the disjointed spoken word by snapping their fingers. They were just too cool to clap. Snap for crap. That's what most of it was and why it didn't survive except in the minds of a few goatee wearing mental midgets.

Peter Heller is a fan of this bygone era I believe. His book seems to follow the broken sentences and thoughts of that era.

Readers make an investment in an author and his style. It's very hard to get invested in odd sentence structure. Broken. It is very disconcerting to be reading and have a sentence end abruptly and then to be followed by a single word. Like it or not Mr. Heller, it doesn't work in poetry and it doesn't work here. It's just plain annoying.

Like young high school girls who throw phrases in French into their conversations to make themselves sound witty and sophisticated. They are not either. So shut up. As if.

The book is about a post apocalyptic US and a man, his plane and a very grumpy friend with a gun.You'd think it would be pretty cool, but it just doesn't resonate.Mr. Heller commits the biggest sin in publishing. His story is boring.

The descriptions are just that. They do not move one or evoke a sense of place. If you want to read writing that will draw you into the terrain, read the first four pages of Hemingway's "Islands in the Stream." If that's too long for you, read the first two paragraphs. That's how you write a description that does more than describe. The descriptions in this book were beyond flat. I actually started skipping them altogether; I'd scan the paragraphs for key words in case some "action" or important detail was hidden there. Otherwise this book could have been a third shorter.

Mr. Heller may have learned to fly but he apparently didn't learn anything about airframe maintenance. If he had, he would have known that his plane would have shaken itself to pieces after so many years without replacing some of those pop rivets. But that is a whole other critique. Later. Snap. Snap.