A Strange Piece of Paradise

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kerrymichaelwood
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A Strange Piece of Paradise

Postby kerrymichaelwood » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:04 am


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A Strange Piece of Paradise

Postby kerrymichaelwood » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:04 am

A fascinating recent book is Terri Jentz’s “A Strange Piece of ParadiseI,” the harrowing account of her attempted murder and her investigation into the perpetrator. The first three sections of the book enthralled me and kept me reading and ignoring important things that I should have been attending to. By section three, I began to be mildly bothered by stylistic excesses. My English teacher habits awakened after years of retirement, and I began making marginal notations.

My contact points with book and author are numerous. For seventeen summers I have spent one or two weeks at Eagle Crest, a time-share resort perched on the eastern bank of the Deschutes River canyon overlooking Cline Falls Park. I have fished the waters and walked the picnic area where the 1977 incident took place. I was totally unaware of what had gone on in that scenic spot until a relative gave me Ms. Jentz’s book as a Christmas gift. I know well the towns of Sisters and Redmond and even tiny Blue River. Like the author, I am a Yale graduate, an English major, and a Russian linguist albeit of an earlier generation.

In an early chapter Jentz attributes the adjective “poignant” to a character—probably her college roommate and fellow victim Shayna Weiss. My sensitivities were offended. Stories and situations are poignant, not people—unless they have pointy heads. I began noting esoteric word choices of the sort that seem to have bothered Patti. For instance, and in random order:“numinous…limning…trepidatious…sacral…eidetic…orphic.” These didn’t bother me—a word freak and Scrabble player—but there are less abstruse substitutions that would perhaps have been clearer.

More vexatious and of a piece with her misuse of “poignant” was her reference to an “incredulous aspect.” Only people possessed of mentality can be incredulous. Not an aspect. Incredible? She mentions “a stigmata,” a plural noun that can’t be governed by a singular indefinite article. Then there is “a miasma (which starts} to drain me”—an odd task for a vaporous exhalation. I can grudgingly allow the use of “disappear” as a transitive verb in “disappear the whole thing,” and the repeated use of her slangy verb “clocked,” meaning to punch. I wonder where the spell checker was when she wrote “coincidently,” but a person whose shoulders have been surgically narrowed as a result of broken scapula and clavicle can be excused for dropping a syllable.

Enough nit picking. Jentz’s frenetic prose--,her exotic word selection, and the repetitious (and occasionally tiresome) thoroughness with which she has researched and presents her investigation--allows the beautiful woman on the dust jacket to assume three dimensions and dramatizes the character and courage which enabled her to survive and transcend the incredible mental and physical hatchet attack. The book’s plusses far outweigh its minuses.

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RE: A Strange Piece of Paradise

Postby dgford » Thu Apr 05, 2007 1:43 pm

Remember too, that the author is telling here version of what happened to her - and I wasn't there.  Also having gone through such an ordeal would put anyone out of sorts with their own consciousness.  It may be a while before she fully comes to her real self.  And when she does, will she like what she sees?  For that matter, will we like her then?  We are not dealing with the 'real her', or the 'before her'.  But instead, we get to meet the 'after the facts' - her.  Boy have I taken some literary license here, sorry about that.  But I think you get my picture.

Keeper of eagles,

Don

Where eagles fly,

Don


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RE: A Strange Piece of Paradise

Postby kerrymichaelwood » Fri Apr 06, 2007 4:10 am

Don,

Glad you hauled this out of the trash. It must have been one of my first postings. The book is a helluva
read. An aspect I didn't formerly touch on is the complex relationship of Jentz and her college roommate/traveling companion who was left nearly blind as a resultof the assault. Yet another is the psychology of the residents and police force of the Bend/Redmon area of the 1970s. Rich mental fodder.


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