Addendum: Story, Payoff, and the Imagined Lack Thereof (Pt. 1)
Yesterday, I made the grand mistake of looking at the customer "reviews" at Amazon.com for The Dry Salvages for the first time since the book's release, and, of course, I came away annoyed. Even though the book's essentially sold out now, was very well-received by pretty much everyone, etc. and etc., I still came away annoyed. And mostly for the same old reasons. One of the "reviewers" (K. Freeman "reader and writer" [Ben Lomond, CA USA]) states that "I love Kiernan's writing style; I love the concepts here [but]...this book frustrated me to death," and "there just isn't enough -- not enough story, and not enough payoff." Er...right. I want to ask, just how, exactly, could there possibly have been more story in this book? If anything, there may, in retrospect, have been too much. Are two parallel and detailed narratives not enough? And as for "payoff," what the frell does that even mean, anyway? TDS is a book, not a racehorse. I most emphatically do not write stories with "payoffs." The Dry Salvages is not some by-the-numbers Hollywood action film that has to ellicit X number of oohs and ahhhs from a test audience, culminating in some big, crowd-pleasing revelation/explosion. The book is meant to tell Audrey Cather's story, and the tale of the Montelius and the Gilgamesh. And it does that. There are no holes, no missing pieces. If there's not enough story here, maybe Mr. or Ms. Freeman should seriously examine precisely what he or she means by "story" and why he or she reads and how he or she's been taught to read.
Freeman also writes that there are "annoying flash-forwards when I want to get to the real story." *sigh* There are two complete narratives in TDS, a present one (Audrey writing her story in Paris) and a past one (Piros), and they are equally important, equally "the real story." I believe this is obvious. Moreover, there are no "flash-fowards" at all, as the present of the book is contemplating the past of the book and not the other way round.
Anyway, there are copies of TDS now available in our eBay auctions. But beware: quasi-literate Amazon.com "reviewers" might be happier with something else, say a nice Stargate: SG-1 novelization?