Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Name of the Wind

If you've been paying attention to my Goodreads widget in the corner (because, I mean, who hasn't?), then you'll probably have noticed that I've been reading like an absolute fiend. Or, well, at least, in comparison to my previous reading habits. Goodreads has honestly done wonders for increasing my reading – gamification seems to work on me.

However, my weirdly specific standards don't appear to have slackened as a result of all this extra input. I continue to find myself frustratedly re-structuring sequences in my head as I read them, complaining aloud why "this exposition is even here" or that "this should be the introduction to the character" and so on.

In an effort to air those grievances, I've turned to you, blog of old, and hope that you'll be receptive.

Book: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Rating: One star

Despite all the Rothfuss love, I simply couldn't digest this one. I did read the entire thing, all its prodigious length and I had one serious grievance that more or less prevented me from enjoying the novel (barring the goddamn übermench protagonist syndrome, which infects the entire book, to the point of causing me to laugh aloud at its absurdity) and I may receive some heat for this one, from all of you spambots reading this.

The framing device, of the tale being chronicled by the aptly-named Chronicler, basically doesn't function. Putting aside tiny impracticalities (like where the fuck does he get all the paper and ink?), the fact that Kvothe would painstakingly explain to this seasoned scribe that every single goddamn syllable that comes out of his mouth is 100% vital and must not be edited or trimmed or primed or anything and then Rothfuss procedes to write the most rambly, long-winded poorly structured excuse for a narrative imaginable, boggled my mind. Very early on, Rothfuss informs you, through Kvothe, that he's the perfect storyteller and how dare anyone take issue with his structure, pace, dialogue, exposition, any of it. If anything, this had the opposite effect on me – whenever the story began to drag, I noticed it ten times more, recalling Kvothe's early caveat and growing that much more impatient with Rothfuss' aimless meanderings.

That doesn't even take into account the sheer implausibility of the whole enterprise. He's recounting seemingly every conversation he's ever had in his entire life, word-for-word. I'd assume he was exaggerating or paraphrasing, but he makes it clear, at the very beginning that nothing is exaggerated and everything is verbatim. It drove me bonkers – not to mention the, like, three times in which Kvothe recounts a story someone else recounted to him, including that story's inner dialogue between characters. That's like, triple hearsay, for fuck's sake, and we're supposed to believe that it's flawless execution? On one occasion, Rothfuss uses it as worldbuilding, explaining the theology behind his world's major religion. Not only is that sloppy exposition for Rothfuss, it's even sloppier for Kvothe, who's recounting that fucking information to two people (Bast and Chronicler) who already fucking know that.

The story itself was decent, had a few moments of enjoyable worldbuilding, but, even without the maddening supposition that it was a perfect narrative, I would have thought it was too long and too wandering.

I'm reading Wise Man's Fear, mostly because I've heard it's even more ludicrous, particularly in the KVOTHE IS SO COOL department, but I'm gonna wait a good long while before that.

Woof. That was longer than I intended. Next time, I'll complain about John Scalzi!

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