19 July 2008


Mitch Cullin (2/5 stars)
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Dufour Editions (December 5, 2005)

At first I was blown away by Tideland and the protagonist Jeliza-Rose, with no one for company but various pieces of Barbie dolls picked up in a 5/$1 bin at the thrift store, running wild in the wilds of rural Texas. I was enchanted by the Southern Gothic flavor, by Jeliza-Rose's voice--at once childish and yet overly mature for her age--and by Cullin's descriptions that had me right there, running beside Jeliza-Rose watching the lightening bugs and worrying about bog men.

But then he lost me.

He took the grotesque element of Southern Gothic to the maximum; it was as if he set out to add anything that might possibly be appalling or unappealing or just plain, well, grotesque without making it really fit the plot, throwing it in willy-nilly just for the shock factor.

Now, I'm sure that's not the case, but unlike other Southern Gothic authors (Flannery O'Conner springs to mind) who are making a point with their grotesque and unappealing characters and situations, in Tideland, they were just there. It went from a book that, in the first couple of chapters, I was certain would be a 5 star favorite, to being a barely acceptable "okay" by the time I finished slogging through it.

Read for the "C" author for my A-Z Author Challenge.



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