Monday, February 04, 2008

In Which I Finish Another Book Group Novel

I love Jeanette Winterson’s novels. I recently read her first published novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I was disappointed because her later writing is so extraordinary that her first foray into writing was not nearly as bold or brilliant. Still, I could see hints of what was to come and had I read her first novel before reading anything else she’d written I would have very likely read her later works to see how her talent developed.

I feel the same way about Felicia Luna Lemus’ Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties. The writing is good and there are hints of brilliance, the occasional metaphor or sentence that just shakes me to my core. The first person narrative is done well, a clear tone and voice established from the very first page of the novel. But because this was the first novel by Lemus, I felt slightly cheated, as if I had gone to a strip club where the girls undress behind a backlit screen. I can see the shadows but the two dimensional potential is not enough to satisfy.

I would be hugely surprised if I were to read a more recent example of Lemus’ writing and didn’t close the book exhausted with the perfection of her prose. It’s all there, implied in the pages of Trace Elements but implication is not fulfillment and I will have to wait until I have time to read something more from Lemus before I can finish reading with a sigh of true contentment.

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