I read for pleasure and to be free of the noise. Nothing else for me fosters that kind of escape like a book, where I get lost in someone else’s consciousness. Once I crack a book (I love the smell of books), the exchange is between me and the text, and hopefully nothing comes between us. My Kindle is fine for travel and for thrillers I’ll never reread, but for the most part I want to feel and smell the pulp as I slip away.
Both of these books I finished in a couple of long sessions on the couch. They both attempt to create other worlds; one succeeds, and the other one tries hard. I made my judgment on the grounds of seductionwhich book did I find more interesting?but it wasn’t really a contest.
City of Refuge
takes a national tragedy and turns it into something to wade through. When a hurricane comes to town, it’s riveting. Piazza writes persuasively about many thingspanic, traffic, flooding, paradesthough not always about people. He’s great with dialogue and is adroit with married couples trying to communicate when their counselor is not around, but he can get didactic with his characters, and when he does the drama plods.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
has good storytelling, good structure, and the appeal of adventures, philosophy, and humorthe appeal of them, but not really those things, as they’re more often discussed than experienced. It’s a well-told story, but too often it feels well-designed and overdone, and all the evidence of Google-able research gives Lockhart’s world a hollow ring.
I liked City of Refuge
quite a bit, but I didn’t love it. It has an agenda to do right by New Orleans, and it sometimes becomes a brochure for a pretty narrow slice of life. And though the men get more attention than the women, that scrutiny doesn’t result in depth, and the female characters are more interesting anyhow. We see layers in the government’s betrayal of the city, and Piazza exposes that cross-section and passionately nails the treachery’s tragedy, but his characters’ refusal to betray themselves is less explored.
, on the other hand, lacks drama. It’s a book full of tension, but few surprises. Nothing seems to matter very much to the characters, and the story comes out flat. Judging by the Rooster poll, I’m sure there are thousands of fans who disagree with me, but I couldn’t find much to interest me in Landau-Banks
and it was a chore to finish. Whereas City of Refuge
creates a world to get lost in and does it pretty well.City of Refuge
to the finals!
City of Refuge by Tom Piazza