This was the first assigned text for Advanced Novel Workshop, Spring 2023. The story is depressing, and it read like an indulgent character study of reprehensible stereotypes. I don’t get what Robinson was trying to say with this book, and I’m not the audience for it. I don’t mind stories where character suffer, but for me there must be at least some form of redemption. Because life is suffering without redemption, and I read fiction to escape that.
On the positive side I can say that this is a functional example of a novel. It moves at a brisk pace, is well-edited, has solid descriptive language, and concrete character voices. Yet it failed to spark any interest in me to read the rest of the trilogy.
These days, whenever I read anything, whether it’s a social media post, a Wall Street Journal article, or an assigned novel, I read slowly, carefully, and for content. And I find, more often than not, that I disagree with or find superficially distasteful, the words presented to me. One, this is because I have a baseline critical and disagreeable disposition, and two it’s because I’m forcing myself to read widely and outside my comfort zone. My response to Trickster got me thinking about writing novels—which, I hope, was the whole reason the professor chose it for the novel-writing course. A novel starts at around 50,000 words, and it is unreasonable to expect any reader, average or exceptional, to absorb and enjoy every single one of those words. I don’t know what a good low end is, but I have certainly come across people who take great pleasure in quoting single sentences from larger works that they can barely recall the contents of.
If someone reads your work and delights in even just a short turn of phrase, take tremendous pride in that. After all, we are living in an era where many people preoccupy themselves with sending 280-character messages out to the entire world that zero people Like™.