Dragonfish

imgres.jpgNot everything we read has a lasting impression on our lives. Some works are just entertainment. But what happens when the novel you are reading is neither entertaining nor intellectually stimulating (or even spiritually satisfying)?

Now that I am entering my eighth decade and have a goodly number of books read to my credit, I can categorically attest that my personal evaluation of a novel is about as good as anyone else’s.

I recently read Dragonfish by Vu Tran. Although touted as a suspenseful mystery novel with interesting characters, what I found was a tedious detective story with little detailed development to make it interesting. The key to the attraction of the novel was that most of the characters were Vietnamese living in the American diaspora (Oakland, Los Angeles,  and Las Vegas); most were directly or indirectly involved in some kind of criminal activity.

Tran apparently concluded that interleaving a back-story from Vietnam (and escaping Vietnam) was sufficient to make the characters interesting. But the backstory was tedious and confusing.

imagesDragonfish most reminded me of the results of a creative writing school. It was disappointing. However, it was Vu Tran’s first novel so we can hope his future works are more promising.

2 responses

  1. I don’t think I would have taken the time to finish this. I’m getting much more impatient with books as I get older (entering my 7th decade) and want to enjoy what I’m reading, or least be educated or edified. 😉 I don’t have time to waste on anything that I don’t, or that’s not.

    Like

    • Yes and No. When I was younger I de-fenistrated many a book (or at least dented the far wall just above my trashcan). But after studying literature for the last fifty years I began to realise two things: First, by the time I discovered a book was not worth reading I was inevitably only an hour or two away from finishing it, and second, many novelists make a turn or a twist at the end and if you stop early you miss it (this is especially true in mystery novels).

      I guess I’m saying that Vu Tran didn’t have enough imagination to surprise me but rather continued at the same level of tedium until the end. But note that Dragonfish won a couple of awards. Maybe we all should get awards for reading it until the end?

      Liked by 1 person

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