Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, June 19, 2011: The Westing Game

Madame L picked up "The Westing Game," by Ellen Raskin, because she was looking for something different. She had one of those "Buy One, Get the Second For Half Price" coupons. This book was displayed on a table with a bunch of "young adult" novels, it said it was a winner of the Newbery Medal and was a Puffin Modern Classic, and it cost the same as the first book Madame L had selected ($6.99), so she felt like she was getting a good deal.

Yes, a good deal. (Madame L was not trying to choose a book by its cover, though its cover is intriguing. Madame L would never do that. It was more like choosing a book by its price. Just as defensible, Madame L believes.)

As Madame L read the novel, she started to feel discouraged. How could this book have won any awards? It made absolutely no sense. It was as if the author had started with a brilliant idea but no notion of character or plot, and had continued writing in some sort of dream state. 

Yet Madame L couldn't put the book down. She tried several times, but kept going back to reading it again. When she finished it, though, she was disappointed again.

But here is the mark of a good read: The book stayed with Madame L for days afterwards, and as she thought back on details, it started to make sense. Madame L realized it was a masterful mystery story for older children ("independent readers") or "young adults," and for people like Madame L, and, she thinks, for you, Dear Reader.



LFP said...

This is a brilliant book! I read it years ago and enjoyed it. Nicely done!

AskTheGeologist said...

Uhhh. I'll pass. I can't read 10,000 words per minute, like you, so selecting a book to read is proportionally (10,000/400) more important.

Unless it's fun to read, most fiction has little value added. I've found that Booker Awards and the like are not selected by people with my tastes and physics-major reading speed. A depressingly high percentage are worse - and proportionally more depressing - than R-rated movies.


AskTheGeologist said...

Anyone else want to vote? If I hear THREE in favor, I'll look at the dust-cover...