NetGalley Review: Sideshow of Merit by Nicole Pietsch (Did Not Finish)

Sideshow of MeritSideshow of Merit by Nicole Pietsch
Did not finish.
NetGalley selection.

Many thanks to namelos for sending me a review copy via NetGalley.

Goodreads Book Blurb: You couldn’t call Mount Rosa Hospital a good place to be in 1957, when you were fourteen. But it’s where Tevan George was, and James Rowley too, “convalescing” from tuberculosis. And it’s where both boys were abused by an older boy–although neither of them did much talking about it, then or later. Shut up! That’s what Tevan did. James too, but he never said much about anything anyway. Nine rocky years later, on the run together since they skipped out on a medical checkup at Mount Rosa’s in 1961, Tevan and James emerge early one morning from the ’55 Chevy they’ve been living in and come across Buddy Merit setting up his “Ten in One” sideshow on a fairground in Ontario. They can’t do magic. They can’t foretell the future. They can’t swallow swords. What Tevan and James decide they can do is a stunt they’ve done only in private, in the dark-a stunt that, performed in public for the marks, takes on a life of its own and surprises even the two young men who perform it. In the company of the misfits and reprobates and losers who make up Buddy Merit’s sideshow, Tevan and James act out the central trauma of their lives until they get to a place from which they can’t go forward and they can’t go back.

My Opinion: There are a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads about this book. I hate to add mine to it, but mine will be for a different reason than subject matter.

A lot of people are not keen on the fact that Sideshow of Merit features erotic asphyxiation. Honestly, I have pretty high limits when it comes to literature, and I was willing to see how Pietsch handled the subject matter.

But the book was just so mind-numbingly slow and boring! I made it 80 pages in on a 350 page book, and very little had happened. If it had, it had happened in such a way that I just wanted something else to happen. I wasn’t drawn to the characters, I wasn’t drawn to the plot, and I kept forgetting that Sideshow of Merit was set in Canada.

Bottom Line: I was really disappointed in this book, as it completely failed to keep me engaged.


On NaNoWriMo, why I gave up on House of Leaves, and more…

I haven’t done a general rambly post in a long time. Not since I went on the hiatus I still haven’t officially come back from. Things have settled from that, thankfully. So here is hoping the blog will be more active again. Because I have SO many plans. Oh what fun!

So, NaNoWriMo… National Novel Writing Month. I did this in August (that incarnation being known as Camp NaNoWriMo) and succeeded in writing 50,000 words in one month. This was the first time I had done it ever, and I am SO proud. So I will be doing it again in November. Which, holy shit, is only a week away. OK, nine days. But really.

I have a plot. So that is step one. I even have a working title and some character names. Go me, go!

Feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you are doing NaNoWriMo in November. (And you should be!) I am vanillabean over there. Here is a link:

This week, I did something I have only done two or three times before. I stopped reading a book in the middle. That book was House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It was a book club selection. It had fantastic potential to creep me out, especially when I flipped to later pages and saw the wonky formatting. I got shivers then. But the academic nature of the first part of the book made it impossible for me to get into it. I might have been able to force myself to read it, but I realized I have been doing that a lot, lately.

I have been reading books that I haven’t chosen for myself. And I am not enjoying them. It is part of why I am so far behind on my goal to read 75 books this year. I keep getting bogged down in these books I have no energy or patience for, because I feel like I have to read them for some reason.

Well, I don’t. So House of Leaves is going back to the library. Will I try to read it again? Maybe someday. But no rush.

I claimed I had more to write about in the subject line, but at this point that is a horrible, horrible lie. I can’t remember what else I was going to write. So on that note, I bid you farewell.