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The Good Fairies of New York (Martin Millar)

November 3, 2010

I picked up this book at random while browsing the shelves at the library. I saw that Neil Gaiman had recommended it, and that coupled with the title and back cover was enough to convince me that I should read it.

I took a while to really get into this novel, starting and stopping it several times over a period of weeks, but finally one night I got caught up in it and couldn’t put it down. It was a really interesting, goofy read…and ambitious at that. Millar works really hard to take up a huge variety of different issues ranging from racism and homophobia to poverty and homelessness. Because of the assortment of issues he tries to take up, I’m not certain he really does any justice to any of them.

For instance (plot spoiler!!), Dinnie’s misanthropic, misogynistic, and homophobic beliefs (and they are beliefs, not just hollow words spoken without true understanding) lead to what I think is supposed to be a huge life change. But that change is actually just brought on by his infatuation with Kerry. The only reason given for his change is his overwhelming concern for Kerry’s health, but there’s no indication that he has actually become a better person; instead, he has just fallen for someone who is a better person, and is behaving accordingly. And the result? He’s rewarded with the affection of a young woman who is more intelligent, compassionate, and generous than himself — a young woman who he doesn’t really deserve.

It’s a strange complaint to level against a book I greatly enjoyed, but there it is. I guess that’s how it is with this blog…in attempting to articulate my thoughts for a broader audience, I end up being forced to grapple with issues that nagged at me before, but had deeper roots than simple irritation. So there it is. I’d still recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys interesting, unusual fiction and quirky characters (and a little bit of magic).

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