So, this weekend I had the privilege of enjoying an extended stay in Beantown – aka Boston – for a family reunion and some fun. The family reunion was great – I met so many new people and even learned I have had cousins living literally right up the road for years! After the reunion, my brother and I stayed with my friend J for an extra two days to explore the city and visit infamous Fenway. I had such a great time, I didn’t want to leave…
And apparently someone must have heard this little wish of mine, because it felt like we almost weren’t going to leave! About 11 this morning, a message came in saying our 5:45 flight was delayed 30 min. By the time we were on the T, another message came in – delayed till 6:30. As if that wasn’t enough, as we passed through security at about 4:30, we noted that the time had been delayed AGAIN – 7:01pm. So there we were, little bro and I, “stranded” for hours in the tiniest, COLDEST airport wing I have ever experienced. Add to this waiting on the tarmac for about 40 minutes and the 1 hour flight home and you have the last 5 hours of my life.
Seriously, Boston, if you’re going to keep me hostage, at least keep me hostage at say, Union Oyster House or Public Garden or something. Sheesh.
On a positive note, this gave me some time to get started on The Big Mango.
I’ll begin with the Prologue. I’ll be honest, I usually skip this section in most books, coming back to read it at the end, if I do at all. However, this time I only felt it right to read from first page to last, thus, I started here. It was really helpful information – the author provided a lot of background on the state of Misericordia and its state of disarray. I can honestly say if I hadn’t read it, I would still know this was a troubled country, but the detail was worth the extra few minutes of digestion.
Misericordia, by the way, is not a country. I looked it up. My search results delivered a residential community for persons with developmental disabilities, a university in Pennsylvania, and a band. In addition, Wiktionary informed me the word as a noun is 1. pity, mercy and 2. a medieval dagger. There’s also a reference to a figurative meaning of wretchedness and misery.
This last figurative meaning seems to fit the fictional location in The Big Mango to a “T”. The country is portrayed as being in a violent, political “hot mess”. But, perhaps the author meant to use a word that would also literally mean just what the author wants the reader (and some of the characters I learned later) to feel for this country – pity. A country with hands open for mercy from tyranny, but also willing to spill blood if one only speak the word…
As clear as the prologue was, there was some information that got a little muddy for me in the first few chapters. This may be attributable to being mid-transit, but even when I was focused, I found I had to read back a bit in places. Not so many times that I’m discouraged, but enough that I noticed.
The author really throws some curve balls at you in these first few chapter! I think it would be beneficial for me to look up some of Kelley’s other work – articles and what not – so I can get a taste of his opinions and writing style away from works of fiction. I went into this book knowing it was a political mystery, but I wasn’t prepared for the strong opinions of the characters from the get go (I have a feeling I will be reading most of this book with my computer or an encyclopedia open nearby – there are a lot of references that go over my head).
Which brings me to the point I’d really like to make – I have NEVER read so much SHOUTING in a book in my LIFE! It appears as though these characters are always hot hot HOT about something – someone is shouting or cursing or walking downstairs in black leather cracking a whip and shocking the heck out of someone on just about every other page. Out of all the dialogue, I counted 2, maybe 3 “inside voice” conversations. These people are HEATED!
And how do I know they’re shouting? Because every other sentence has one of these: !!!!!!!!!!!! I recently read a post in Blah Blah Blog about over using this handy punctuation. Visit the blog and read I’m Hungry! The Proper Use of Exclamations , pick up The Big Mango, read a few chapters, and tell me I’m not crazy.
Anyway…. where I’ve left off, Nina has gone to Washington, something she didn’t want to do, and has just convinced her leather-wearing, whip-cracking friend to change so they can have a normal dinner over wine while the friend’s hubby (soon to die – not a spoiler, they say it on the back cover!) must work late at the White House. My prediction? Classic murder mystery – wrong place, wrong time, you heard too much, now die. Stay tuned…