Review of Wind Tails by Anne Degrace
by Anne Degrace
What is it that makes people think broad statements about life are wiser when packaged in gruff, short sentences? If you ever need to sound wise, just drop all the articles from your sentences--apparently it works.
I'm not sure why I picked up this book from the shelf, as I seemed pre-disposed toward disliking it from the moment I read the jacket copy. Much to my surprise, it grew on me--not at first, but toward the end of the book. Nevertheless, while Wind Tails is at times interesting, once or twice endearing, and overall entertaining, it still suffers from the unfortunate desire to be profound....
Anne Degrace manufactures a microcosm in which all of her characters are interconnected in one way or another, passing through Cass's Roadside Café and picking up a hitchhiker named Pink. Everybody has a story. And telling these stories becomes a story itself; storytelling is supposed to heal wounds and bridge gaps in history and personality. Some of the stories are interesting. Others, not so much. I didn't care for Eunice or Evelyn, personally, but found Jo an intriguing main character. I wish we learned what happened to her beyond the frustratingly postmodern ending.
The one character I could not stand was Cass, owner of the eponymous diner, and resident Know-It-All. Cass embodies the flaw of Wind Tails and, indeed, any other book that attempts to thrust profundity upon the reader like a sugar-coated pill. While I love books that have a deep message and leave me, long after I've finished them, thinking, I also want my books to entertain me. Instead, I'm forced to listen to Cass talk about how life is like a box of roadside diners and every once and a while you need to watch a soap opera, take a day off. Perhaps this is just me being a cynical product of my generation, but this sort of "uplifting" literary fiction seems far less profound than a David Eddings fantasy novel.
To its credit, Wind Tails wasn't as bad as I feared. I finished it. And other people may like it better than me. It falls short of what it should hope to accomplish, however, and it didn't leave me feeling very different from when I began the book.