Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: What a Piece of Work I Am

Only rarely do I stray from my book lists when choosing what to read. When I do, it is with mixed results. Maybe my book club will pick something that I never heard of, but end up enjoying immensely (The Imperfectionists by Tim Rachman). Or I hear about a book and buy it on impulse (Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott) and love it. Or a cover catches my eye at a library book sale, and I read something I wish I hadn't.

That was a case with What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft.

Many readers might find this story-within-a-story novel to be charmingly quirky and refreshingly sassy. Unfortunately for me, what was supposed be quirky came across as cheeky and what might seem sassy to others felt too cute by half to me.

The novel looks back at the life of Ariane Lodkochnikov as she tells her story to her childhood family friend, Peter Leroy, over a series of evening visits. In dialogue irritatingly stilted for reasons apparent later, they discussed her life in seaside Babbington, from clam shack waitress, to small-town floozy, through several reinventions of herself, to her ultimate role as an international phenomenon.

The back cover describes the novel as a "fascinating meditation on human urge to tell and hear stories" and that storytelling theme is writ large throughout the narrative. However, because the book begins with a "prologue" by Leroy explaining that Ariane is his imaginary childhood friend, the whole thing feels like watching a parlor trick when you already know how it's done.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.  But since there are no reviews on amazon, it seems unlikely that other bloggers have reviews to share.


I bought this because the cover caught my eye. I read it because I set up my 2013 TBR challenges to read though one of my TBR shelves at random.  There is a lesson in this.

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