Saturday, October 6, 2012

Enough Outlander for now

I enjoyed Outlander enough that I was eager to read the second book in Diana Gabaldon's time-travel romantic adventure series, Dragonfly in Amber. Now I'm not so sure I want to go on to tackle Voyager, the next novel in this popular series.

Not that Dragonfly is a bad book. It is quite engrossing in spots, and the ending is particularly interesting, but there are also long dead spots where Gabaldon seems to be more interested in writing a long book (947 pages in paperback) than a good one.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it is about Claire Randall, a 20th century English woman who gets transported back to 18th century Scotland, where she meets and marries a warrior named Jamie Fraser and has many exciting adventures. In Dragonfly, she is compelled to return to her 20th century husband, whom she loves, just not as much as she loves Jamie. Now, 20 years later, she tries to tell her daughter, Brianna, about her real father.

Gabaldon is an imaginative and skilled writer, but there is a sentence near the end of Dragonfly in Amber that I reread several times and still couldn't figure out. It reads: "The air reeked of stale cigarettes and insufficiently taken-out garbage." It's the "insufficiently taken-out garbage" that confuses me. Does the author mean there is a faint smell of garbage because most, but not all, of it was taken out? Then why the word reeked? Does she mean someone failed to take out the garbage at all? Then why the word insufficiently? Does she mean just that the garbage hasn't been taken out lately? Then why not say so?

I know it's stupid to get hung up on one small sentence in a 947-page novel, but I see it as garbage that was insufficiently taken out.

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