Half Finished Books – Part one (To Be Sung Underwater)

This is the start of a new series. (Move over, Armchair Traveler).

I think I’m not that unusual in that I almost always have several books “in progress.” Depending on mood or location, I’ll pick up a mystery, non-fiction book, literary-to-not-so-very-literary novel.

This series will report on first and last impressions. Do you ever start a book and it’s great for the first chapter or two and then it just fizzles? It’ll get repetitive, the characters that seemed charming become unlikable, or it takes a turn into just plain boring. In this series, I’ll give you my first impression and then (after an undetermined and suspenseful wait), I’ll give you my final thumbs up or thumbs down.

Kicking it off,  is  To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal. My first impression is mixed. The writing style is so fluid and unforced, it’s compulsively readable. McNeal is the master of  finely wrought “small”  observations about life or relationships. The mood is one of quietness and serenity.

The book alternates between present-day Judith (married and a movie editor in L.A.) and young teen Judith who moves to Nebraska to be with her father. (I prefer these sections; both the 1970’s period and the character of Judith’s father – an English professor).

I’m less enthralled with the contemporary chapters – there is a feeling of cynicism and fading hope.

Stay tuned-

2 thoughts on “Half Finished Books – Part one (To Be Sung Underwater)

  1. That’s how I felt years ago about Tobias Wolff”s “This Boy’s Life” Started well- middle was ok- and the ending was so bad I barely remember it.

    Good blog! I look forward to more entries!

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