Jan 8, 2013

Egret

by Helen Collins

I really picked up this book by mistake. Probably because of the title, it was shelved among nature books on birds, where I found it browsing at the Book Thing. It was an interesting read, but not really my kind of book.

Egret is about a young woman named Jodi trying to make her way in New York City. She's an artist, and her experiences adjusting to city life, living in crowded apartments with roommates who don't share your interests, and the often-desperate embarrassment caused by feeling like you'll never get out of poverty were all things I could relate to (from my years as an art student). Her experiences with budding sexual awareness and entanglement with various love interests were foreign to me. She's lesbian, also a virgin and very uncomfortable when her roommates drag her along to bars and nightclubs. Then they convince her to accompany them to Long Island, using an older woman's interest in her and her desire to see the local wetlands and wildlife, to get into a party, where they promptly ditch her. Lots of strange experiences unfold. I could not comprehend the behavior of many characters in this story, and the apparent love-at-first-sight scenario between two people from opposite backgrounds and social classes seemed very unlikely to me. Even up until the end of the story, I couldn't always understand what was going on, people's reactions to each other just did not make sense to me.

The book did make a good point that stereotypes are usually incorrect, whether it was from straight people judging the homosexuals they knew, or the other way around. I found their constant misunderstandings of each other rather amusing, although sometimes a puzzle to work out. But there were other problems with the book, for me. The writing often felt awkward, unpolished. The characters' inner thoughts and opinions on each other were all over-explained, yet in a way that left me with really no sense of who they were. I kept getting her three main friends mixed up; even though they were very different people their characters were unclear to me for a long time. I enjoyed the parts that had to do with art, but felt disappointed there wasn't a bit more depth there. And the aspect of the story that had to do with wildlife conservation felt unrealistic, an extra thing tacked onto the story that didn't really fit. I wished it had fit in better, but most of the narrative seemed to be about who-thought-this-about-whom and which party Jodi was awkwardly navigating now or who she was having overwhelming feelings for (in spite of hardly knowing them) and I just didn't care for all that.

Anyhow, it was interesting and I liked reading about the life-in-the-big-city with an artistic bent, but it's not a reading experience I'll care to repeat.

Rating: 2/5 ......... 220 pages, 2001 ........ find it on Amazon

2 comments:

Jenny said...

Hahahahaha, I always think serendipitous accidental reading experiences are going to be wondrous, but they very frequently are more like this. I think it's too funny that this book ended up shelved with the nature bird books.

Jeane said...

Yep. Usually I don't even finish when this happens but it had enough interesting things going on in the setting at least... for once I was reading for atmosphere and not to find out what happened in the end!