Dec 132013

Auraria Tim WestoverAuraria, by Tim Westover

Synopsis: A land developer buys up property in a quirky, haunted valley in late 1800’s small-town Georgia

Book Review: This book came to our club’s attention via the 2012 Fall Battle of the Books, where it made it to the final round. I was very excited, as this is a self-published book, and I’m always very much in support of screwing The Man. Self-published works that garner critical acclaim while bypassing the old dinosaur gatekeepers make me all warm and fuzzy inside. So I really wanted to like this book. And I will say that the prose is beautiful. Excellently crafted; the imagery is extremely evocative. The sense of place is palpable, every page immerses one deeply into the old south. The writing is witty and charming. But… nothing happens. I like for things to happen in my books, and this wasn’t that sort of book. No one grows, there’s no excitement, nothing changes very much. It’s hard to care about any of the characters. This didn’t deter several of our book club members, who still enjoyed it anyway, but I was bored to tears and had to struggle to get through it. If you listen to Welcome to Night Vale you are familiar with this type of story. Neat quirky things happen, the end. It’s perfect and very entertaining in 20 minute doses every two weeks. To have to plow through 400 pages of that non-stop is awful. It goes from being enjoyable to boring to downright annoying. I feel that this would have worked better as a collection of shorts? In any case – Not Recommended.

Book Club Review: The lack of any plot gives book club discussions a very clear thing to focus on: the writing craft. That’s clearly a good thing for the author, because the writing itself is exquisite. But Auraria is unlikely to spark any deep conversation. It doesn’t take any strong positions and doesn’t seem to have much to say. There’s not much there to provoke further comments or inflame the passions. Not Recommended.

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