Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Book of Speculation (Erika Swyler)

I'm not quite sure how I feel after just finishing Erika Swyler's The Book of Speculation.  On the one hand, I thought her writing was beautifully descriptive and exceptional at making me picture the joint stories in my mind. On the other hand, I didn't feel any sort of connection to the characters, which made the ultimate knowledge of their fates a little unsatisfying to me.

The Book of Speculation weaves two different narratives together, and Swyler does this very well.  In present day, Simon Watson is a librarian living by himself on Long Island Sound; his parents are both deceased, with his mother having committed suicide by drowning, and his sister Enola travels with a carnival as a tarot card reader. On the verge of losing both his job and his house (as it is crumbling and about to go over the bluff), he receives an old book in the mail out of the blue.  This book tells a story hundreds of years old of Amos and Evangeline, two young performers in a traveling circus.  Simon wonders why his grandmother's name appears in the book and why so many women in his family drown on the same day.  Will the book provide the answers?

As both narratives raced to their conclusions, I was disappointed by the payoff (or lack thereof), and as I stated, the lack of connection I felt with any of the characters.  However, that doesn't make the process of getting there any less fun.