Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
This week I gave up on a book. I wish it was this one; instead it was Emperor of All Maladies. That is a really good book, it’s just too dense. So I turned my eye to this, because I’m going to be discussing it with other folks at book club in a week.
Man, it was bad. Not ‘Cinderella’s Diary’ or whatever that awfulness was a couple of years ago, but still bad. Yet somehow it has a 4-star rating on Good Reads. How is this possible? It’s SO BAD. Bad enough to not even deserve a clever header image.
Now, I really don’t ever read short stories, so I don’t know – is every story supposed to sort of end with no resolution? Do they always feel kind of pointless? I know that novels sometimes end without resolution, but usually there’s at least enough time throughout the novel to build characters to the point that I care.
I don’t *think* anything connects these stories, although maybe five of the six could be characterized as about people who are stuck in the past. The rest of the review includes spoilers (I guess), so read on if you like. If not, just take my word and skip this one.
Nirvana – Man’s wife is temporarily but possibly permanently paralyzed, is obsessed with Kurt Cobain. Husband has built some sort of virtual reality allowing everyone to talk to a recently assassinated president. The technology writing is laughably inaccurate, the characters aren’t fleshed out at all. It was a quick read because it felt like it was written by a teenager. 1 star.
Hurricanes Anonymous – Man had already lost everything. Then hurricane Katrina happens. Then his ex leaves his son with him. He leaves to get a car from his dying dad. Maybe forever? Unclear. This one had more potential so I was ultimately disappointed. 2 stars.
Interesting Facts – Woman has breast cancer and almost dies. PLOT TWIST. She’s already dead. 2 stars.
George Orwell was a Friend of Mine – This one had the most potential to me, and felt the most developed. Former prison warder from East Germany doesn’t really think he did anything wrong. Kind of ends up cracking up. Weirdest part was the sort of glossed over fact that he apparently raped his passed out wife every night of their marriage. 3 stars.
Dark Meadow – Oh this guy is a pedophile (but he only LOOKS at the pictures, guys) who was abused as a child. More tech writing that is probably crap. Creepy as FUCK. 1 star.
Fortune Smiles – Two men who defected from North Korea. 1 star.