One of my largest complaints about a book (other than hating every character…cough cough A Confederacy of Dunces…) is an awkward writing style. I may love the storyline, or I greatly enjoy the characters, but if the writing style creates a barrier between me and the story, I just don’t enjoy it. Maybe I’m being overly picky, but I know what I like. Do you have a writing style or genre that drives you crazy, or an author you just can’t stand?

Libra

Libra is about the JFK assassination, written as a biography of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. DeLillo combines true events of the assassination and life of Oswald and fictional conspiracy theories to create a thrilling story. Oswald is presented as a listless and unfocused drifter, struggling against a world he believes is out to get him, stumbling from one government conspiracy to another. In every instance, Oswald changes his entire mindset to prove he was innocent; he is a patriotic American, a Marxist, a Cuban revolutionary, a family man, and a great supporter of Soviet Russia. In the end, Oswald is recruited to attempt the assassination (but miss!) in an attempt to force the US to finally invade Cuba and eliminate Castro.

I found the story line to be extremely interesting. While there is not a really solid narrator, the book is written around this old scholar, Nicholas Branch, studying the assassination for the government to come to some sort of conclusion about what happened and why. Although there are no answers in this book, it was fun to see one theory of how all the pieces fit together. Because there are so many characters (Oswald’s family, his army buddies, and the many FBI agents trying to recruit him) who act as proxy narrator while Branch studies the file containing that life event, the point of view changes constantly.

It was this changing point of view that drove me crazy. I can deal with books that change narrator every chapter (although I generally dislike it), but this book would change narrator from one paragraph to the next, often leaving me confused for a few sentences before I knew who was talking! And many of the characters were hard to follow, as their thoughts were presented in fragmented and unfocused sentences. So while I liked the story, I could hardly read more than 20 pages at a time before getting so frustrated with the writing I needed a break.

For a girl who can read for hours at a time without noticing, that was the deal breaker with this book. Interesting story about an extremely emotional event, but a writing style that refused to let me really get into the book. I was never able to become so engrossed in the characters that I forgot where I was and what I was doing. Slightly recommended to people who love history and government conspiracies, but not recommended to casual readers or people who like grammar.

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