Subtle Bodies :: Norman Rush

Title: Subtle Bodies
Author: Norman Rush
Read: 9/3/13-9/18/13
Obtained via: free ARC from publisher
Stars: 2/5 (I’m being generous)

After an extensive internal struggle over what to rate this book, I settled on two stars.

I can’t even tell you how much I hated the beginning of this book. So obnoxious. So pretentious. Do people like Ned and Doug really exist? Unfortunately yes, because they are the kind of people I have to deal with at my job. They think they’re smart. They think they’re funny. They use big words to try to confuse other people. They think they’re better than everybody else. Honestly, I get enough of it at work. I don’t really need to read about it when I get home. Maybe that’s a reason why I disliked this book.

I would now like to give you a rundown of some of the vocabulary words used in the book. Exophthalmic. Burgomaster. Miasma. Hinterland. Patrician. More? Okay. Baronial. Weltanschauung. Cineastes. Aoroi. Derisory. The list goes on. At certain points, it seems like Rush just consulted a thesaurus with no regard for common usage. I love words – I have a BA in Linguistics, after all – but I had to step away from this book several times because I couldn’t even handle the vocabulary.

And then the plot. Or the lack of plot, for the majority of the book. Men talking. Men reminiscing. Men sulking. A wife. An ex-girlfriend. Nothing cohesive. The best plot summary I could think of was “Old guys using big words at a funeral.” Honestly, I stopped worrying about the plot about halfway through. I concentrated on Nina, my favorite character, and took the book as a distraction, or just something to read to relax before bed. I enjoyed it much more.

I think this book was probably intended for a demographic that I do not fit.

[Also posted here.]

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