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TonyTalbot

TonyTalbot

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Nicholas Nickleby
Charles Dickens, Mark Ford

Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel

Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson On a secluded island in Washington State in the 1950s, a fisherman is arrested for murder...A book that couldn't decide if it was murder-mystery, courtroom drama, a piece about racism or just a thorough description of every plant found in Washington State - multiple times. Seriously, I lost count of the times I read the word cedar, and the endless descriptions of the snow storm that runs through most of the book.There are no real main characters in this book; everyone is given a little vignette and a life story, and the book shifts between back story and court-room story flawlessly. It's never confusing as to where the characters are - although going into details on the characters grandparents seemed excessive - and I never felt lost as to past and present.It's a book with a lot of flaws; there are endless descriptions of weather, endless descriptions of plants that mean nothing unless you happen to be a botanist specialising in Washington State flora. It's really nothing more than a short story fleshed out with a lot of pointless detail (at one point we're told a character lights a lantern with a wooden kitchen match. Why not just a match?) and a lot of backstory.There were certain parts I could have done without - like being told a character masturbates into a handkerchief every two weeks, or the description of a widows last morning of shower sex with her husband, or the lawyer who couldn't maintain an erection. Yeah, makes nice reading on here as well, huh? It added nothing to the story whatsoever.Having written a book on Japanese-American internment myself, I spotted some errors and omissions that the author either didn't come across or chose to ignore. There were no radios allowed in the internment camps, for instance, and the FBI also investigated people of German descent after Pearl Harbor; the island had a large German population, but nothing of that was ever mentioned, even in passing.And there is no reason WHATSOEVER the accused couldn't have told the sheriff the minute he saw him coming what really happened and saved himself the trouble and bother. And essentially, the whole book.Yet, despite all the flaws, I still liked it. The writing was fluid and descriptive and quite lovely in places, the characters were all solid and three dimensional. The island took on a life and a history of it's own, and it feels like I have walked the streets of San Piedro and fished its lonely waters.