Nine of us met Tuesday afternoon and discovered in short order that not one of us had been crazy about this book. In looking at critical reviews, we found that we were in good company. Most of the discussion centered around what we didn't like.
We agreed with the reviewer who "thought that the fictional narrator Tadashi Sato, writing a biography of his mentor with limited knowledge, was a curious, unnecessary device." We wondered if Boyle had used footnotes as a vehicle for his own voice, like his quip - what's with this man and fire?! Kareen appreciated the footnote that informed us that his son John was the creator of Lincoln logs, though she also said that she wasn't inclined to read Boyle again, based on her feelings for this book.
We also agreed with the critic who faulted Boyle's decision to tell the story backward. It was very confusing and someone said, it made us work too hard to uncover the story. We found it difficult to identify a favorite character, though we found it easy to pick apart the women, especially Miriam. We thought it was clever to end the story with the beginning, but not clever enough to justify the construction.
Wright was unconventional in every part of his life, and we were amused by the double standard he practiced, especially later in his life by being intolerant of drinking or romantic involvements outside marriage. We also commented on his arrogance in ordering two vehicles and then informing the sales staff that he wouldn't be paying for them.
As for whose story it is? We thought perhaps Miriam, or perhaps even Taliesin as it certainly was not Wright's story. We concluded by saying that while it's impossible to be a fan of the man, I believe to a person, we appreciate the work he generated during his megalomaniac life and the split from conventional architecture he is responsible for.
Both Carolyn and Linda talked about the fact that Boyle lives in a FLW house, the only Prairie-style house in California, and that perhaps the book was a love story for his house, of which he is very proud.
The discussion was quite short and we spent the rest of our time selecting books to read in 2011. The are listed in the blog sidebar. Start shopping for used copies!