I missed First Impressions Friday, as I had an unexpected trip to the hospital … at 8am in the morning. So I’m posting this today in catch-up mode.
Thursday evening, I started reading John Straley’s The Woman Who Married A Bear (1992) — which I had bought last weekend, you know, because of the title, and who wouldn’t right? And I had planned to talk about it Friday. But, as Friday and Saturday came and went, I didn’t get back to reading the book again till yesterday afternoon.
First of all, let’s start with the back cover blurb, which has all the right ingredients to grab your attention:
“Cecil Younger, local Alaskan investigator, is neither good at his job nor great at staying sober. When an old Tlingit woman, unimpressed by the police’s investigation, hires him to discover why her son, a big game guide, was murdered, he takes the case without much conviction that he’ll discover anything new. But after a failed assassination attempt and the discovery of previously missed evidence, Younger finds himself traveling across Alaska to discover the truth in a midst of conspiracies, politics, and Tlingit mythology. High drama meets local color as Cecil Younger works to uncover the motive and identity of the killer.“
Now, let’s talk about what I’ve read so far, and my first impressions of a book that should be so much more, but isn’t.
I’ll start with the character of Cecil, a protagonist without (so far, I should point out) one redeeming feature. His wife has left him, and for good reason, he drinks … he drinks constantly. So how this character is a functioning person at all, is beyond me. But, stretching credulity aside. This deadbeat character is tasked with helping an elderly Tlinget woman find out the truth about her son’s death—because, somehow amid all the drugs and drinking, he works as an investigator.
Which is another way for the author to spend endless pages talking about Cecil’s background and upbringing, as if this makes it all okay to be a deadbeat, asshole. We also get more than enough colourful descriptions of each and every town, person, and disreputable establishment in Alaska. Complimented with endless descriptions of what the weather’s doing every five minutes
Yes, I know the weather is changeable in Alaska, I just don’t need to be constantly reminded of it.
So far, things are not looking up for Alaska nor, may I say, Cecil, who is just a self centred, pain in the ass. I had high hopes for this one based on reading the first chapter but, sadly for me, it’s been all down hill since then.
I’m struggling to find a reason to continue reading this one. I might, only because it’s short at 288 pages. And not because I care about any of the characters, but because, in the end, I’m hoping the author does deliver on the promise to share some stories about Yupik and Tlinget culture and myths. The reason I bought the book in the first place.
A full book review will follow, if I manage to finish this one.