Monday, April 26, 2010

Promising but painful

Black Hills
Dan Simmons


Yes, it's true. It may have taken me months, but I have finally finished Black Hills. I finished last night during a marathon skim-fest that allowed me to cover nearly 150 pages.

First, let me be clear: I LOVE Dan Simmons. Sure, we've had our ups and downs, but I think our relationship is on fairly solid ground.

That's why I was so disappointed to slog through Black Hills. The premise sounded promising: young Paha Sapa, a ten-year-old Sioux, is present at Little Big Horn and touches General Custer as he's dying. The ghost of Custer takes up residence within him and haunts him for the rest of his life. Years later, Paha Sapa finds himself at the construction of Mount Rushmore, and he feels it's his duty to bring the stone giants down.

See, you'd think that would be interesting, right? A ghost, living in you? Haunting you from within?

Well, don't be fooled.

Right: That's me (aren't I skinny?) while reading this book.

Ironically, during one point in the novel, Paha Sapa tries to read Henry James' Ambassadors, but "He simply can not get through it ... The story itself seems so insignificant, so overblown, so petty and obscure..." REALLY?!?!? Am I the only one who finds this totally ironic?!?

That's not to say Black Hills is an insignificant story -- but overblown? Impossible to get through? ABSOLUTELY.

In a nutshell: A great book that needs a fearless editor. As it stands, a bit painful. I still got love for Simmons, though.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2 out of 6 stars

FTCBS: I received a review copy from the publisher. Thanks, even though I wasn't so much a fan of this one.


Dana said...

Congrats on slogging through and finishing this one. Thanks for the honest review.

Heather J. said...

DITTO! It took me forever to get thru this book, and I really WANTED to love it. :(

So ... what did you think of Custer the Horny Ghost?

Aarti said...

I feel like I'm in the minority as I really enjoyed this one (except for the italics and the lack of "he said" or quotation marks. It was my first Simmons, though. I plan too read The Terror soon!

J.C. Montgomery said...

This is one of the few books in the most recent Bookmarks Mag that I did not put on my wish list.

Something about the premise hit me the wrong way. However, I appreciate your support of the author regardless, and am making a note of the work you do like from him.

Strange as it may seem, this post is as much as a good recommendation for the author as it is the review of a book you didn't like. Well done.

PS...I lurve that animation. Priceless!

nat @book, line, and sinker said...

but your synopsis makes it sound so promising!! i'm always bummed when books don't live up to my expectations, especially if i've enjoyed the author's other books.

i'm with jc--the animation is so funny and i've been there myself.

Miss Remmers said...

At least you finished it! I would have given it up. :)

I have an award for you: