Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: Doc by Mary Dora Russell

Doc: A Novel


I did something I don't do very often. I did not finish a book. This book has been much hyped as brillant in the Historical Fiction group. I always enjoyed hearing the story of Tombstone, since my parents took us there when I was little. So I tried it.

From the start, you can tell it is well researched, but the style is different. It read more like a biography, than a piece of fiction. The narration just didn't feel like the typical detached over looking narrator; not quite a historian's voice, but more that way than the typical narrator. After we get into Doc Holliday's teen years, we start getting the normal fiction tone, with the more typical narration. But throughout the first 200 pages, they two style intermix, sometimes within the same chapter, or even the same section of a chapter. This mix of styles didn't really work well for me.

Another thing that bothered me was how the author dealt with time. For Doc's younger years, it worked well, but when the author started in on the Dodge City period, time gets a bit unclear. The death of Johnnie Sanders is a big event, as it is discussed over 100 pages of the 200 I was able to read. But the way it was told, and with no really indication of how much time has passed in those 100 pages, it does not seem like that long has passed. My guess would have been no more than a year, but probably a few months less than that. Until at one point, one character exclaims why Wyatt was still talking about a death that is more than three years past. None of the events around this death are told in flashbacks, so this was highly unexpected. There are flashbacks mixed in, and 'visions' of the future or what could have been, and those are clear, but the depiction of the present time is not clear. Some reason, this really got to me.

Another problem I had with this is that it suffers the same problem as Caleb's Crossing. The title does not suite the book. Doc does not tell things through Holliday's persepective. Some of the narration focuses on him. But probably half of what I read was told with a focus on one of the other characters, and frequently it did not relate back to Doc at all. Its more about Holliday and the Earps, since they seem to have equal amount of time focused on them.

Now, I have been sporting a continuous headache most of the time I've been reading this, so the irritation of it may have influenced my reading mood some. It was a full blown migraine episode and the looming due date that made me decide to just set this one asside. This is an ebook I checked out from the library, so I may at some point decide to check it out again, when I'm in a better mood, but for now, we part ways.

1 comment:

Patty said...

It is ok to not finish a book...sometimes reviews about certain books are amazing and then when I read it I wonder why...this just happened for me with Map Of Time...I finished it...all 600 pages but it was not a favorite book for sure...

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