Good on Paper

It is a bit hard to read a book when I have a rare weekend off. Dallas Aunt comes to town, and finally I am free to do what I want to do: hang with friends, go see all the foreign films I’ve been meaning to see (Embrace of the Serpent and Son of Saul being great films and highly recommended by me.) Rachel Cantor’s new novel Good On Paper finally arrived for me at the library, but my I was ready to party down as much as I party down nowadays.

The problem is I really had to read this as quickly as possible judging from the list of books on hold I have with the library. About four of them are becoming available at the same time despite my best attempts to time them out. Fortunately since I hate driving and took public transit as much as I could, it gave me some good chunks of time to spend reading.

Here is a novel about a down-on-her-luck translator in New York City named Shira getting a seeming dream job translating the new work of a Nobel Prize winning Romanian/Italian poet Romei while trying to keep her makeshift family and life together. The first half of the novel builds the pressure in her life until it comes out exploding about 2/3 of the way through.

I’ll admit I enjoyed Samantha Hunt’s Mr. Splitfoot a lot more than Good on Paper. I wasn’t as engrossed as I was in the former. Then again that could be the symptom of reading the first 100 pages while on transit. It’s a perfectly fine novel, although one thing lingered as I finished the epilogue.

At the point where Shira’s life explodes, I thought I missed something. It was certainly written with the intent of the mind-blowing explosion ready to happen. “Shira! he half shouted, his coital dream cracked open like a canteloupe.” “With the precision of film rolling backward, the pieces shot back into place, the shattering of my life became whole.”

Cantor brings back strains of prior events as she brings this all to a climax, and perhaps it is my shortcoming that I completely missed it. I knew it was a something, but what this something was mystified me for a bit. There I had Shira in bed completely devastated, and here I was in bed more fully clothed than Shira wondering why.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book, but I am upset that I missed the full effect of the climax. But, I suppose, that is my own personal motif.