The Small Backs of Children, by Lidia Yuknavitch

4 Sep
Small backs

FOUR out of FIVE stars

It seems people either love or hate this book. I loved it until I started feeling meh in the last third. It’s my first Lidia Yuknavitch novel, and I was immediately blown away with the writing and what she does with words and phrases and meanings and how she twists and turns them all into things I’ve never seen before.  I’ve read other attempts at this kind of writing, and then the pretentiousness rolled my eyes so far back in my head that I only had the whites left.

I wasn’t put off by the sex or violence, and it is there in extremes. I understood the need for it, the need for it to be as visceral and unfeeling as possible.  It was disgusting and it was fascinating and it was needed.  It will be difficult though for those who are sensitive to that sort of thing.

But there were a couple points where I wished Yuknavitch would just get on with things.  Then she would, and I’d love it again, and then I’d start losing it again. And the end – from the point of The Girl & The Painter and beyond – was when the pretentiousness started showing.  It felt more about the need to impress than it did putting a solid ending on the thing. I don’t need an ending that wraps everything up with a tight little pink bow, but come on, what was all that mess at the end? And the last lines, paragraph, page… then we’re suddenly hit with “Acknowledgements”.  There were also two very convenient scenes that come out of nowhere to rescue a character and put things back on track; that is lazy writing, and there’s no excuse for lazy writing after such spectacularly thought out scenarios as was the end of the Performance Artist.

Yuknavitch convinced me that she is a solid, possibly genius writer, and The Small Backs of Children is 90% impeccably written.  It feels strange to withdraw a star from a book written so beautifully.  But there were times I was not interested enough to continue, I didn’t feel much emotion when it was over, and I just cannot say I loved it.

3 Responses to “The Small Backs of Children, by Lidia Yuknavitch”

  1. rosemawrites September 4, 2015 at 6:13 am #

    Hi there! I recently added this on my TBR list. I have read positive reviews as well as negative ones. I admire how you make your arguments and assessment of the book. Your review is simple and honest. Congrats! 🙂

    • pischina September 4, 2015 at 6:21 am #

      Thank you so much! It’s hard to argue that it’s not an incredible book. Definitely try it!!

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