I just finished Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices by Jodi Picoult. Miss Snark praised her, I’ve seen her name everywhere, she writes both young-adult and adult fiction, so I grabbed this one. It was good, interesting for me from a craft sense, but somehow unsatisfying. Is this women’s fiction? I think so, or some region on the border of women’s and literary fiction. It’s the account of a marriage breakup and reassemblage told from five different first-person viewpoints with the chronology all shuffled up. So technically that was interesting but I had a strong sense that the choice was not inevitable. That it was less “it has to be this way” than “let’s try this.” And the other thing I found disappointing in such an acclaimed writer is that the voices of the five different narrators all sounded curiously the same. There were a few overtones of individuality, but the way they looked at the world, their literary voice, was at foundation the same. So, interesting yet unsatisfying. I didn’t learn anything here except maybe what to watch out for in my own work.
I know, hideous hubris for me to be dissing a well-loved and recognized novelist while I–a self-pubbed author–am still languishing in the slush, but I pound my chest and declare it’s my right to be a critic if I want. (blows raspberry)