Review: Spaceman Blues: A Love Song

Spaceman Blues: A Love Song - Brian Francis Slattery

Originally read December 4, 2013


I had trouble making it through this book, mainly due to the writing style.  In some ways, the writing style was almost conversational, which normally isn’t such a bad thing.  The problem was, reading this book was like listening to somebody who rambles about random things and takes forever to get to any sort of point.  Some characteristics that I would normally like in a book, such as descriptiveness, backstories, and extra details, were a chore to get through in this book because of my difficulty with the writing style.  The paragraphs were often long and rambling, a page or more in length, describing something in a random and often incoherent fashion.  Sometimes I would lose interest partway through the paragraph and then forget which character or place was being described by the time I made it to the end.


I kept spacing out while reading, which forced me to go back and re-read sections just to figure out what was being described for fear it might be important to understanding the story. In fact, my reading behavior with this book was very similar to my reading behavior when I’m reading a dry college textbook -- I frequently had to skim back through things I had already read, and I sometimes even resorted to reading out loud just to force myself to stay focused on the words so I could make forward progress.


The characters were interesting, and many of them had interesting backstories. The rather odd thing is that we were often given their future stories too.  Sometimes something would happen to a character during the current timeline of the story, or the character would make a certain decision, and then the author would go on to describe the consequences of that event well into the future.  In some ways I liked that. It gave me a chance to learn about far-reaching consequences that wouldn’t have made it into the story otherwise because they would have been outside the story's time frame. On the other hand, it also reduced suspense because you knew whether a character lived or died. Sometimes it even spoiled how things would turn out by the end of the book.


When the book focused on the main story and events made forward progress, I found myself getting caught up in the story.  During those times, I looked forward to seeing what would happen next, which is what kept me from giving up on the book altogether. There was a good story in there, but it kind of got lost in what felt to me like rambling chaos.  However, the ending was not at all satisfying.  All of the main questions were answered, but nothing was really resolved.  In fact, things were in much worse shape by the end of the book than they were in the beginning.  Maybe the plan was to write a sequel, or maybe the author just likes to leave things open-ended, but I was hoping for a more satisfying conclusion to reward my perseverance.


The average ratings I've seen elsewhere seem to be pretty high for this book, so I feel like I must have missed something or else I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. But I think mostly the writing style just didn’t work for me.