I knocked out two quick books in the last day, neither of which won me over.
Mariette in Ecstasy
Judging by other reviews of this book, it appears as if I’m taking a rare middle ground stance. I thought the prose was beautiful and the scene descriptions lush and full. I enjoyed several individual pages. But with a big cast of characters and a central one the writer makes intentionally mysterious, none of it resonates. Plotting is marginal at best. It just lurches from one beautiful set piece to another until it’s interesting conclusion, which I liked. It’s short enough to be worth a read but I wasn’t enraptured with it. There are a lot of good ideas but they don’t form something coherent.
A Time to Scatter Stones
Kinda sad that this is the last we get of Matthew Scudder and it’s a mediocre tale at that. Matt returning to his old profession was fun enough, as were the callbacks to characters past and watch him do his patented shoe-leather detective work. But the outlook on prostitutes left a lot to be desired and the end is best not talked about, not just for spoiler reasons. Even for a novella, Block could’ve shaved about 10-15 pages off without missing much. So it’s not how I wanted Matt’s story to end but I was happy to spend a little more time with him and, since Block is so good at articulating the creeping darkness in all of these stories, I feel okay letting go. Go gently into the night, Matt. You will be missed.