08 August 2007

July Reading

July books read: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostava
July books bought: None :(

When I told a friend I was reading The Historian, she remarked "It's pretty good, but about 200 pages too long." That sums it up nicely, I think.

Spoilers below.

There were many things to like about The Historian. The idea that Dracula is, in some sense, a historian himself, is first among them. Coupled with this idea is the other very cool idea (which I am totally stealing for a game someday) that Dracula selects his victims at least in part based on their knowledge of and access to books of history. I also enjoyed the layered narrative -- with letters and flashbacks detailing most of the plot. In some ways, reading The Historian was like being a historian, finding patterns and layers of meaning in primary sources.

The book took awhile to get moving and there were characters and episodes that didn't add that much to the story. I am not sure, for example, what function Barley served. Upon occasion, those layers diffused the story rather than added to it, especially toward the end, when 85% of the narrative was from Paul's point of view and told as a letter/flashback. It was easy to forget what was happening to Eva (or really care, for that matter. Just when you thought her story would pick up steam with her leaving Amsterdam, not much happened other than avoiding a creepy stranger in the train and her sexual comsummation with Barley. I saw that coming as soon as he entered the story, but it did make a nice parallel with her father and Helen).

Still, and enjoyable take on the Dracula story. And I am a sucker for stories that have academics and protagonists. :)

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