Eye of the Diamond-T: A Review, of Sorts

diamond-t-front-cover (1)When I was thinking about starting a blog, I thought I might do occasional reviews of books and movies. After I started blogging, I realized that enough people were already reviewing books and movies, and many of them were very good at it. I also realized that my opinions were far too Siskel and not enough Ebert. In other words, I was too critical for anyone to benefit from my reviews. Good critics like some things, and some other things they don’t like. I like almost nothing, and that makes me a great ass, but not a very good critic. I posted one review, if you can call it that, which you can read here if you’d like. Then I decided to do other things.

But when I like something, you ought to listen up. ‘Cause I’m fairly picky.

I discovered Bill LaBrie’s blog, I Question Your Questioning, about a year ago and I’ve been enjoying his writing ever since (hence the link down and to the right on my sidebar.) I’ve been looking forward to his novel, Eye of the Diamond-T, for about as long, and it is now available.

You can read a synopsis here. You can read reviews with plot summaries here. That’s another why reason I’m not a good reviewer. I don’t like reviews that are full of plot points, and apparently I’m in the minority there. My kind of review gives me as little information about the plot as possible. When I want plot points, I know where to find them. In the book.

All of that said, Eye of the Diamond-T fooled me. Or maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention in the beginning. It doesn’t have much of a plot. At least not a traditional plot. It begins in media res after a truck driver has crashed his rig while being pursued by two unidentified men clearly up to no good. The hook did exactly what an in media res hook is intended to do. It engaged me, and made me want to know more. Thing is, it got me ready for exactly the type of book that this book is not. I was all set to find out who these guys were and what they wanted from the main character. I was anticipating thrills. Action.

But it shifted gears into another time and place and I thought, ‘okay, we’ll see where this is headed. I can be patient.’

Then it shifted gears again, and I thought, ‘okay, I’m starting to wonder if this is heading anywhere.’ I began to lose patience. It kept reminding me of The Long, Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamoora, by Michael Nesmith, the former Monkee.

And then I realized the track I wanted this book to get back on was my own track, not the book’s. I realized it at about the same time the book itself started getting mystical, which may or may not have been the intent, but kind of worked out well for me. When I realized I was being unfair to the book, my experience of it changed almost immediately, and I began to enjoy it for what it was – its own unique thing, which didn’t conform to any preconceived notions of what it is or what it should be. I realized it did not intend to answer questions but to raise them and to make me think. As one of the Native American characters says…

[My daugher] is made of stars. Just like you and me. I tell her do right thing. Sometimes she do other things. Some stars move different.

I’ve often said that if a book is not worth reading twice, it’s not worth reading once. Eye of the Diamond-T is a book I could read again. And I likely will, because I didn’t catch everything on the first go. I need to start over and read it on its own terms. It moves different.

In my book, this is pretty high praise.

16 thoughts on “Eye of the Diamond-T: A Review, of Sorts

  1. You make reading about another book interesting in its own right Walt, nice. My wife picked up a copy of a Chekhov book that has the same picture of him on the cover as your moniker/gravatar – she confessed to having the hots for Chekhov when she was in school. I’ve just read a couple of his plays: do you have anything you’d recommend? She has probably a dozen books by him and I don’t know where to start. This, of course, after I finish the next 800 pages of Infinite Jest (riffing off your opinion that if a book’s not worth reading twice it’s not worth it, once). – Bill

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    • Yeah, my take on reading things twice breaks down as we approach works of infinite length.

      If she had the hots for Chekhov, I wonder if she’s seen Hipster Joseph Stalin.

      Now I hate to disappoint, but my use of the Chekhov image is quite fraudulent. In my gravatar profile, I think I said I’d never read him. Now, since then I’ve begun to feel a little guilty about it, and I did pick up a collection of his short stories and have read a few. He’s supposed to be one of the greatest short story writers of all time, but to be honest, I don’t get it. The ones I’ve read aren’t doing it for me. I haven’t given up yet, though. I’m going to keep plugging away and if I find a gem I’ll let you know.

      Two of my favorite short stories are by J.D. Salinger. “For Esme, With Love and Squalor” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Have you read either of those?

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      • I won’t let her see that photo of Stalin, she’ll leave me for him. No disappointment or fraud here, w/r/t Chekhov. I’ve heard of the Bananfish story but haven’t read it. Added to the list, thanks. I did read Franny and Zoey last year and liked it fine, but it didn’t grab me the way it does most. Talk about an incredibly dialed-in voice, though. Hope you have a restful weekend and perhaps a mellow day for the holiday, Monday. We never got that off until recently, when I worked at Starbucks. Best,- Bill

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      • I wouldn’t blame her if she left you for him. I might leave my own wife for him. Damn those Rooskies. If you didn’t get into Franny & Zooey, you might not like Salinger’s short stories too much. But if you do read any of them, the two I mentioned would be the ones to go for. There is also Seymour: An Introduction, which might be more your speed. But it’s an even more dialed-in voice for a dialed-in reader. If you are dialed-in, though, whoo boy! Nothing better.

        Monday will be my first day back to work after a short vay-cay. No MLK day for the duder, here.

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  2. sounds interesting and you are right the reviewers out there are good.sounds like my kind of book,unfolding on its own terms. I always did despise a book whose landscape i could figure out,there’s no thrill and no chase but then again those are exactly the kind of books that made me want to write….not so bad at reviewing,got my attention!

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    • Yes, there are so many blogs dedicated to reviewing books or movies, and the people writing them are much more voracious consumers of such things than me, and more interested in writing about them. I don’t read enough books or watch enough movies anymore to even keep up (there was a time…). In order to be good at it, you really have to be consistent, so that people get to know your likes and dislikes and can trust your recommendations. I’m more interested in writing what I want to write than writing about what others have written. Thanks for reading and for the positive comments!

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