Yesterday after writing my book review for “We Are Pirates” by Daniel Handler I let myself do what I normally do, read other reviews and compare notes.
I feel like I’ve missed something. All of the clever nods and social commentary; I feel like I’m stupid or thick for not having noticed. The New York Times review I read was a somewhat glowing review of the prose and structure. Sure these facets may have been good but those don’t make a good review. The clever parts that the review mentioned are possibly the parts I found most grating about the book. I suppose it just wasn’t my style.
I feel like I’m being defensive (and I’m sure I am). And it isn’t like anyone said anything to me in disagreement. The book carries a review score just under three stars on GoodReads. I’m not the only one. But I like to pride myself at being at the zeitgeist of the culture surrounding books. I’m the person who enjoys books others don’t (another blanket statement). Sure its pompous but I feel like my opinion is up there in the ones that matter (again, at least to myself) and when my opinions don’t mesh with something as notable (most of time) as the New York Times I feel, like I keep saying, that I missed something.
But a book is more than its structure and the words on the page. And “We are Pirates” is just lacking when it comes to telling a compelling story. Or I am not as well read as I lead myself to believe. But when there is no joy in reading something who cares about subtext. There was something at the end of the book, like I mentioned in the review, that made me want to go back and connect it all together. And then I remembered that I wouldn’t enjoy more on a second reading.
Ending point: The story telling in “We Are Pirates” is fundamentally not good and most of all it isn’t believable. It also lacks whimsy in a place it should have been.