A lot has been going on in her life lately, but in this way Leslie is no different from anyone else. It’s just Life. While the plot at times is action-adventure driven, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is exciting. If anything it often reads like a lullaby and the weariness seeps from the page, sucking energy that a cup of Chai with Baileys cannot seem to replace quickly enough.
One has to like the protagonist, who sometimes reads as antagonist, in order to stick to reading the story. (Or I suppose profound dislike might draw a Reader as well.) The context of Leslie’s life might evoke any range of emotion depending on the levels of empathy with the Reader, so the success of the story is at times hard to gauge, uneven.
Unexpected news and events infiltrate the daily narrative creating the conflict that might compel the Reader. The unpredictable turns create excitement in some moments, or deep sighs of “really?” other times. Primarily the story is strongly biased by the narrator’s perceptions and one strongly relies on the dialogue with other characters to provide perspective and Real context.
The story is hardly a psychological thriller, nor could it be aptly categorized a Drama of Literary proportion. The mundane aspects of the Realist fiction do have a level of ridiculous that I think anyone could appreciate. By anyone, I may mean the cynical and pessimistic perspectives. Still, the absurdities could annoy the Reader and cause the covers to snap shut rather decidedly. It is hardly escapist fiction.
The pacing is reflective of daily life, capturing the collapse and expansion of time rather accurately. The pages turn sometimes with excitement, riveted by the moment, and other times with dread, peeking at the next page like the eyelids in the morning that can see the light through their closed shades and it is sheer will to make them look out.
There are some fantastic characters and they come to life on their own. This perhaps creates the most organic feel to the book. Their interactions are not always predictable. The daughter is perhaps the least easy to anticipate and the Reader and protagonist could attribute this to the girl’s age. Readers who are Parents will most probably connect to the struggles and joys of the Parents in the story and find the greatest source of humor there.
The relationships between characters warrant interest. The dynamics are ever shifting and then settling again; then disrupted or reviewed and settled again. However, the relationships would hardly gain the interest of a talk show personality, thankfully. There are very sweet moments and other scenes that veritably seethe. Notably, some portions are unavailable to certain Readers. Different editions and versions have been rendered based on the relationship with the author. It even depends on the edition as to how the footnotes read. The footnotes that are there to explain the marked out portions or time-lapses or transparently shoddy explanations to certain thoughts or actions.
The story is told in first person narrative form. Where there might appear to be a little voice over narration by some third person omniscient narrator, this is an apparition and a device. The change in voice that might signal a shifting point-of-view seems to be derived from one of the many voices housed within the character Leslie. Any mistake at voice-overs can be attributed to the common place talking aloud to oneself in an empty room…or even one occupied.
You get that Leslie was not always as she is now (for good or bad). Questions naturally arise and at times flashbacks to earlier times are provided. One also is drawn to wonder “where will this all lead to next?” and while there is speculation on the part of one or more characters themselves, the narrative captures the uncertainty really well. I haven’t finished the story (there are several more pages and tiny print and gobs of illustrations, diagrams, photographs, and links to short fims) and while I can guess at some of the probable trajectories, mysteries abound; and while some long naps seem prerequisite at times, I can hardly look away from the page.
As I have become personally invested in several of the characters—namely the handsome and doting husband who fairly spoils Leslie and the charming and pretty daughter who is ever the source of some clever insight or outraged diatribe on social justice and the unfairness of it all—it is hard to be completely objective about this read. And as I can be unfairly harsh with the main character at times, I feel I have lost perspective there as well.
As ever, with a book of this sort, the emotional investment is a cost to be considered. The Reader Response, in consideration of the necessary input of effort and the ease of connections, etc., varies. It is a story that even the narrator seems to set aside occasionally, pulling the reader into a daydream, or nightdream, or another story (the meta-fiction in this is perhaps alarm-worthy). Still, I feel confident in saying that there are some to which this story would appeal.
As far as themes or messages/meaning or evident preoccupations, there are several. Few are declarative however, so some interpretation is required. There are plenty of Tales that read like the Cautionary sort. There are several sequences that fairly beg the Reader to write into the author and share their advice or own empathic response (but not all editions share the home address). In the end, the read can be engaging or alienating; of fascination (morbid or otherwise) or of repulsion.
I stumbled upon the read and have little mind to do anything else but pursue it. While at times Leslie has little to recommend herself, I find her a worthwhile character just the same. She can be obnoxious or boring at times, but she has created plenty of iterations before, another is bound to be in the offing. Her voice falters here and there, and the writing goes from Poetic brilliance to intelligible fumbling to didactic meandering to the clarity that cuts the eyes and steals the breath like a wintry dawn…
The story exhausts me to think about it sometimes, and other times I am hardly restrained in incoherent gushing. Finding a moment somewhere in between on the spectrum, I figured it was a good time to share. After all, I created “omphaloskepsis” to talk about what I was “reading and writing, and writing about reading.”