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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

The Good Thief

The Good Thief - Hannah Tinti I'm torn by this book. It was a fun read, but good heavens, I expected more. Sadly, I think the over-the-top praise by such luminaries as Junot Diaz and Dan Chaon do the book no favors. They simply raise the reader's expectations beyond the novel's capacity.Here's the problem: the narrative is entertaining--(a bit Dickens, a bit Robert Louis Stevenson, although in flavor only, the quality does not withstand comparison)--but the ending is far too contrived and tidy, too neat by far for there to be any real resonance; and the characters are too predictable and even, dare I say, stereotypical. I understand this sort of thing worked nicely for Mr. Dickens, but times have changed and frankly, it feels imitative and unsatisfying here, at least to this reader.As well, the writing needed a good editor...for example, the prose is bogged down by far too many connecting verbs: "....and a tin that was labeled Molasses." "The small man chose a jar that was yellowish orange." These two examples are in consecutive sentences on a page I picked at random. Couldn't any decent editor have changed these to "...a tin labeled Molasses." and "The small man chose a yellowish orange jar." This sort of sloppy writing kept snapping me out of the story. Similarly, one character shouts all her dialogue and we are ever-reminded of this because every word she utters IS RENDERED IN CAPS. It become tiresome quickly, as does the (only) character who speaks in phonetics, e.g. "They musta done it fah warmth, she kept saying. They musta found each othah, in tha dahk." It makes the prose sound amateurish, and really, I think Ms. Tinti is a better writer than she's exhibiting here.For all these, perhaps overly critical, nitpicks I repeat that I found the book entertaining. The perfect novel for an afternoon in the hammock. So enjoy, by all means, and perhaps, like me, you'll look forward to seeing what Ms. Tinti does next. There's enormous potential here.