Friday, August 6, 2010

So I guess I'm a craft nazi

David Nicholls' One Day is marketed towards me.  It's plot is the kind of sappy maddening romantic drama that girls like me enjoy - boy meets girl, boy and girl spend one night together, boy and girl have poor timing, boy and girl become good friends, boy and girl love each other through the years but somehow never get it together.  The concept is interesting in that it follows these two through the time span of two decades - but with snippets of what their lives are like on the same day each year - July 15.

I really wanted to like this book, if not in some great intellectual high brow literature kind of way, then in the entertaining beach read kind of way.  I picked it up on my little sister's suggestion, and having recently finished Calvino, I was looking for a lighter read.  I had read Love Rosie awhile back which is sort of a similar concept, and you know, for someone whose favorite movie is When Harry Met Sally, kinda seemed like it would be my sort of thing.

The thing is, I didn't dislike the book.  There were parts I liked, very much.  But I found myself bristling often with a lot of the craft elements of the book, and so although part of me very much wanted to know what happened to these two in terms of the plot, I found myself really distracted by other things that made it sometimes difficult to push myself through the book.

For instance, he has this thing where he sometimes uses past tense and sometimes uses present tense.  Within the same chapter.  With only a section break.  Despite it being one linear narrative.  I hate that, so so so much.  And also, while he almost got away with his constant flitting of points of view, the voice never felt completely omniscient for it to not be distracting to me when POVs switched within a sentence or paragraph. Sometimes I felt certain sections to be a bit gimmicky.  And, while I know this was intentional, sometimes Dexter was so unlikable that he bordered on being completely unsympathetic, which is really a problem when you're trying to, I don't know, root for the guy to get the girl.  The cat and mouse chase of their relationship therefore was maddening, and not in a good way all the time.

Ultimately though, because I'm a sucker, when I got to the end, I was a bit touched, and saddened.  It didn't leave me unaffected, so I still thought it was somewhat entertaining, but I did find all of those craft elements so maddening at times that it wasn't always easy to read.  The prose itself is solid, and probably better than your average beach read type novel, though not super literary or anything, so in that sense it was fine, but seriously.  Those POV and tense things were grating on my nerves.

In fact, I feel the strong need to medicate by reading something uber literary next.  My final assessment: overall, not a bad read, good if you're less particular about elements of craft and are looking for something easy.

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