“Though Mordecai could name any fish or seabird’s rank in phylum or species in a flash, I was beginning to understand that he knew nothing of what they swam in and flew over. He did not account for those things that could not be mapped: the vagaries of wind or a sudden storm that might force a pod of whales deeper, slower; a freak of cold threading up from the deep to send a school of squid spiraling away from the whales, the whales hurrying after, away from Mordecai’s precious route. Having lived indoors his whole life, he was so untuned to the sea and its ways.”
Janice Clark, The Rathbones
From the files of too-easy-to-take-advantage-of: despite a stack of juicy subject matter (incest! whaling! serial wife-abduction! a guest appearance by Circe!) this tends toward timid and equivocal; the frame story seems insufficient to carry the weight of the history Mercy wants to discover, as she and Mordecai move from revelation to revelation with very little friction, and the tone, which teeters somewhere between magical realism and full-on fairytale, smooths things out too, making the book into a series of linked set-pieces. The set pieces are often nice, with nicely poetic language and images pulled through, from one to the next — but the soft frame and the soft tone don’t give enough of a skeleton for the pretty bits to stick to.
February 10, 2014, 9:30am Comments