Impressions after 19 pages are entirely negative. But I'm admittedly quick to dislike things, and I hope the book improves and also that you'll all steer me right.
-- the narrator is to this point dull, even dumb. The scene with the gun is an easy example, but his melodramatic pauses during conversations (some version of "I don't immediately answer" happens five times in three pages) are forced and annoying. Maybe he's a well-informed idiot like many Nabokov characters, which I'm hoping for, but so far the portrayal seems sincere, lacking irony. I'm worried.
-- the 'hook' is melodramatic . . . but at least it's dramatic. There's not much tension anywhere else, sadly: I'm waiting to see what happens with the hook: that's it: after 19 pages. No character development, either. Rachel is a complete blank. And I've discussed my feelings about the narrator.
-- the research about cricket is shoe-horned in and the speech about the civility of cricket rings false (somewhat the giving of the speech, but absolutely the reception. No one snickers?). ((Edit: I looked again and people do laugh. I can't tell if they're laughing 'with' or 'against' him, though. Clarity, Joe.))
-- the structure is clunky without any yield that I can see (a quick brief flashback within the larger flashback seems entirely unnecessary).
--the prose has enough vague evocations and lapses that I distrust the author. Two examples:
1. " . . . I find it hard to rid myself of the feeling that life carries a taint of aftermath." (That just makes me cringe -- not only 'taint,' but the vagueness is so blah. We're supposed to be interested in a guy who talks like this? Ugh.)
2. And this exchange:
"Oh," I say, "I'm sure I've told you about him. A cricket guy I used to know. A guy from Brooklyn."
She repeats after me, "Chuck Ramkissoon?"
(Um . . . maybe I need to look up 'repeat'?)
Yeah, I'm being nitpicky but just for spiteful fun. I'll keep going with the novel. Disagreement and revelations about my stupidity/impatience are entirely welcome and even hoped for.