Friday, June 25, 2010

Tim Winton: The Riders

I'm still slogging through, trying to read all of these books that are weighing down my house, causing it to sink further into the ground and causing an earthquake hazard to anyone who visits or passes through the living room. Tim Winton's "The Riders" has been in my house a long time, probably a hand-me-down from dad, though unclear, since it didn't have one of his trademark bookmark post-it thingies in it. The book is good, readable fiction, which I haven't been reading much of. But I was frustrated, because the back of the book ruins the main conceit of the plot, which makes the book almost boring from the get-go. A man, Scully, is in Ireland, working like a slave to get a house into shape for his wife and daughter to show up. Only, like the back of the book says, his daughter shows up without his wife. I have to read the back of the book to decide if I'm going to read all these books- I mean, doesn't everyone do some version of reading the back of the book before they decide to read a book? The alternative is just judging the book by its (front) cover, which I admit I do as well. You either read the cover, skim a few pages, read a review, or read a book because someone recommends it to you. So obviously, Winton and/or his publisher felt it was no big deal that I knew his wife wasn't going to show.

But it was a big deal. A good third of the book takes place before his wife arrives in Ireland, and Scully is a lovable character, and Winton doesn't write any sense of foreboding into the plot. Scully is lovestruck, the reader gets that, but he doesn't have any clue of what's going to happen. The reader knows, but not because Winton tells her. She knows because she read the back of the book. Weird. According to the book, the genre is "psychological thriller," so I guess the first third of the book is more thrilling because you know where it's going, but I'm not current on this genre- is that how it's supposed to work? "The Riders" is a good, if strange and not fabulous read, and now you know what happens, too. It's not a spoiler if it's already spoiled, right?