52-book challenge, #14: Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds
I have mixed emotions about this book. It's beautifully written and entertaining and there are some lovely pithy witticisms ("Our first order of business will be to find a deranged alchemist, which should not be very difficult. China [...] is overstocked with deranged alchemists.") but I don't engage with it. It has no emotional immediacy for me, and I think that's a visceral reaction to the slapstick and the breeziness and the broadness of the farce. These aren't bad things, mind you--they're conventions that the author is choosing to use, and using well--but they're conventions I don't particularly care for.
Essentially, while I sort of enjoy much of the book and greatly enjoy parts of it, the slapstick annoys me and I fail to engage and invest in it. I'm not committed to this book. Its nice enough, in other words, but I fail to love it, and sometimes I find myself crowing with delight at bits and pieces, including some of the tidy ways the story comes together and the ways the author picks up threads and weaves them back in, and I find myself occasionally pausing to roll my eyes at the narrative.
So, I am torn.