Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Junes and Several Other Months

I am feeling so uninspired by Three Junes by Julia Glass that I don't even want to write about it.  I've never said that before. 

Three Junes is a set of three stories with overlapping characters.  The best developed story is that of Fenno, a gay man living in New York.  The other stories feature Paul, who is Fenno's father, and Fern, who is a woman who spent brief periods of time with both Paul and Fenno.  There were many ends left hanging, which I don't mind if I care enough about the plot that I create my own endings for them. That was not the case here.

One of the most annoying aspects of this book for me is that I can't identify the three Junes.  The book's premise is that it is the story of three different characters experiencing three different months of June, over a period of about a decade.  Paul and Fern's Junes are clear, but Fenno's story spans several years, and as many deaths.  Maybe if I had read the book in paper form instead of listening to it, the chapter headings would have identified a certain June as the time when Fenno is experiencing the story, with the rest being his reflection on earlier times.  That would be contrived at best, and if I can't tell that by listening to the unabridged version of the story on CD, then it didn't really work. 

Please don't worry about Julia Glass.  She won't starve just because I don't like her book.  I am clearly in the minority.  Three Junes won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2002.  I have read several National Book Award winners, and to compare Three Junes  to a few of the others, I would say that it is not as powerful as The Shipping News by E. Annie Prulx, not as enjoyable as Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, and not as memorable as The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.  This is not the first time that I have disagreed with the National Book Award, however, and while the presenters may not care, we will have to agree to disagree again in this case.

Next up on CD:  The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Still reading:  After Dark by Haruki Murakami

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