29 September 2011

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

Let me offer this sentence as an exemplar of why I didn't bother to finish The Night Circus:
"[The Burgess sisters] ask the perfect questions to keep the conversation flowing, warding off any lulls."
OK. So what, may I ask, are these questions like? Are they teasing or thoughtful? Do they draw out information on the topic at hand, or do they change the subject? Of whom are these questions asked? Can you quote me just one that I might experience its perfection firsthand, instead of taking the author's word for it?

To me, this is unskilled writing, and The Night Circus is rife with it. The carnival of its title is supposedly an intoxicating panorama for all the senses, but we're given very few details about the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes in question, a vagueness at first mysterious but quickly annoying. I can only theorize that Morgenstern is unable to rise to her own descriptive occasions, that her reach exceeds her grasp. She's got a good premise here: the eponymous circus is unwittingly a battleground, the site of a game played out between the proteges of two rival magicians, with the students themselves unaware of the rules or the stakes. But (though I am alone in this, as I've been hearing rave reviews for months) I found the prose lacking in definition and emotional weight. And I just got bored.

1 comment:

  1. I read a lot, and I always think about the book itself when I am done with it, but this book, I am still thinking about it hours after the fact, this book was amazing, in so many different ways, in the love, and devotion that this book had towards a circus! i will own this book forever!


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