Monday, September 28, 2009

Fruit baskets and bum days

A Winter Haunting
Dan Simmons

Fruit baskets! I knew it couldn't last.

In the past two years or so, I've read and adored two recent novels written by Dan Simmons. Because I enjoyed his most recent works so much, I've vowed to read more of his earlier work. Hence, A Winter Haunting.

The premise sounds promising: Dale Stewart -- middle-aged, divorced, and depressed (not to mention heavily medicated) -- makes the trek back to his hometown in an effort to isolate himself. Such isolation is necessary to write his novel; of course, it's also necessary for him to face his own personal demons.

You see, years ago, Dale's best friend died under suspicious circumstances, which is partly why Dale returns to the now-empty house of his dead friend. Yes, that's right: he chooses to pass the winter in his dead friend's house, and, what's more, he even chooses to pass each night in his friend's very bed. Allllrighty then.

sounds like a perfectly sane plan!

The reader, of course, can see where this is headed long before dumb Dale does. Dale's personal demons return to haunt him -- both literally and figuratively. While several scenes were surprising, some were simply too...shall I say incredible? to elicit any actual apprehension in the reader.

I also had an issue with the narrative voice, which was a bit awkward for me, even if the premise was an intriguing one. (If you don't mind a minor spoiler -- and one resolved in the first chapter, at that -- you can highlight the following: The narrator is Dale's dead friend. Yes, you read that correctly. And while such a narrator sounds interesting, the execution was somewhat lacking.)

Still, I'm not done with Simmons, not by a long shot. I consider A Winter Haunting merely a pothole on an otherwise perfect highway. Right? RIGHT?

In a nutshell: I knew such high expectations were impossible to maintain. Sigh. I'm not giving up on him, though: we all have our bum days.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2.5 out of 6 stars


Marie said...

Fruit baskets! LOL.

Nymeth said...

Sorry to hear this was a let down! I still haven't read Simmons, but I plan to get to Drood in October.

Madeleine said...

I haven't read this author yet. Hope to read Drood sometimes next year.

I like your sense of humour

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

you are so sincere...and this is what is required to be a good reviewer (perhaps a non-paid

Amanda said...

Ok. So I LOVED The Terror too. I also have The Drood sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for the R.I.P. challenge. Though I might pass on this one. It looks like his writing has just gotten better with age.

Semi-Literate Yinzer Book Club said...

I am having the same problem. I love Dan Simmons thanks to Hyperion and the Terror, however, I am currently reading an older novel of his (Hollow Man) and am rather disappointed so far. Still love him though, Hyperion bought him my lifelong support.

Kristin Dodge said...

Bummer... *sigh*, I knew he was too good to be true.

Love the new format, too. Obviously, I haven't been around much. ;-)