Formative Reading and Education

Formative Reading and Education — from the elastic nature of memory. I read a slightly patronizing review of the (relatively) new novel Ripper by Isabelle Allende, can’t link to the review because I can’t be bothered to locate it, but the review was kind of harsh.

What some of the novel reminded me of, another influence, possibly a huge influence I’ve never admitted — or analyzed — the Tales of the City series. I recall reading the books, all of them four, maybe five? Reprints of a weekly column that formed a narrative, five hundred words at a time. That word count is a guess, leftover number from undergraduate work.

Serialized, coherent narrative thread, with characters and development, back story, future tense, all mapped out, a little bit at a time. I recall very little, but I’m less homophobic than some — it’s an Austin iteration.

One important professor intoned that all authors have but one story to tell, and some authors never try to break out of a single niche, telling then retelling the same tale, over and over. Perhaps part of the echo is the location, part of it is the interwoven plot, and part of it is topical allusions to recent events.

Ripper is framed as a Murder-Mystery, originally penned in Spanish, a far more beautiful language than my own American-Texan English. The nuance of the language leaves something lost in translation, but I’m not about to attempt it in Spanish.

Still, for me, it’s a ripping good yarn, with characters that I care about, if somewhat quirky, and bizarre frame, again, it works for me. Perhaps, though, part of it works because San Francisco is an almost mythical place, shrouded in fog and literary history, some valid, some pure fabrication.

There are occasions, that do call for retribution. “Honest, officer, he just needed killin’.”


Ripper – Isabel Allende

I checked my reading copy out of Bexar County’s Bookless library, Bexar Biblio Tech, a cool resources that just gets better each day. Amazing resource, a fully digital library.

No way to attest to Ripper‘s success, but there were several savage reviews, and I can’t agree. Tight plot, a love of language, and just enough murder to make it twisted and dark, almost brooding. But with sunny San Francisco as a backdrop?

The early parts of the book engaged me with the “San Francisco flavor,” and I hadn’t thought about the “Tales of the City” series in years. I can’t recall anything about them, other than, well, it was set in CA, full of weird people.

I’m a newcomer to murder-mystery, crime and thriller categories. Relatively, I guess. All of the genre’s tropes are there. Doesn’t stop it from being highly enjoyable book, for me. With a supporting character who is an astrologer?

Sure, works for me.

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