Gods in Alabama

by Joshilyn Jackson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 034089668x Global Overview for this book
Registered by Bakerwoman of Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on 7/9/2008
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Bakerwoman from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Wednesday, July 9, 2008
This is a great book and a quick read that deals with love, family, race, and hidden secrets. It is full of surprises and plot twists and the characters are alive and endearing...you feel as if you know them.

Journal Entry 2 by wingLittleSuzwing from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Caught at meetup thank you. Looks like a nice little read.

Journal Entry 3 by wingLittleSuzwing from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, July 19, 2008
I just finished this. It was a quick read and quite entertaining. The plot was a bit OTT and perhaps would've benefitted from a longer book to tell itself in. I found the action of this too fast-paced to be believeable and the characters a bit two-dimensional. That I know is the total opposite to what Bakerwoman felt. I guess it just proves how we all read things differently :-)

Alright for a weekend read.

Journal Entry 4 by harmaja from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I got this book from the local meet-up. Thank you!

Journal Entry 5 by harmaja from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Thursday, October 9, 2008
I sort of agree with both Bakerwoman and LittleSuz, for reasons I'm going to give soon. For now, let me just say I liked Gods in Alabama a lot, actually a lot more than I thought I would! It was funny and well-written, and had a very satisfactory ending.

In order to comment further, I must include some tremendous spoilers. I'm going to write my comments below with white font, so they shouldn't be visible at all unless you "paint" them with the mouse. If you're new to this book, I recommend you DON'T READ THE SPOILERS!

OK, I didn't like Gods in Alabama that much in the beginning, because like LittleSuz, I thought the characters were a bit contrived and the plot was not very plausible either. However, at that point, I was totally mistaken about the genre of this book. I actually took it to be a "serious" novel about a young woman going home, facing the traumas of her youth. I also didn't sympathize with Arlene at all, because I felt all this righteous indignation towards her, she being a murderer and all. I kept wishing the truth would come out and she would be put to jail, like she deserved.

Only at the very end of the book it dawned on me that I had fallen into a trap very cleverly set by the author! Gods in Alabama is in fact a good, old-fashioned detective story, the kind with proper clues that you can work out in your own head. The clues were very good and generously given, and I probably could have worked then out, too, had I realized before that this is a whodunnit! I was told already in the beginning of the book who done it, and I fell for that explanation completely.

Only at the very end I realized all the clues that were strewn all along the way, and it dawned on me that this was a detective story after all. And for a detective story, the characters make sense, too. They don't need to be more than 2-dimensional, because that sort of goes with the genre. In fact, everything about this book sort of fell into the place when I finally understood its genre. And I think that was a brilliant trick from the author!

I felt like I could sympathize with the characters, too, in the end. I still thought that Arlene was pretty violent and the real murderer, well, she really was ruthless. However, since this wasn't a "serious" novel, I didn't feel like the characters should be people that I could identify with or like or anything like that. And I don't mean that detective stories are somehow lesser literature than other novels, I just mean we use different reading strategies when reading a whodunnit and when reading a "serious" novel. It was my reading strategy that had been mistaken, or cleverly mislead, until the very end.

I also like the fact that the book had clues pointing out not only to the murderer, but to the real genre of the book itself! Talk about metatextuality! One clue is that Arlene's boyfriend is a lawyer, who likes to read legal thrillers: the kind of detective stories where a lawyer solves a crime. It's a textual device called mise en abyme; a miniature of the book itself within the book. Burr is, in fact, a fictional lawyer in a detective story, reading detective stories where fictional lawyers solve crimes. However, in the end it is not Burr who solves the crime; not completely, at least.

All in all, although I didn't like Gods in Alabama that much while reading the book, I loved the way I was being misled and how it all dawned on me in the end. I think it takes a very clever writer to create a book like this! I also enjoyed the dark humour and the easy style of the book. I can highly recommend it now! I just hope that people don't know the ending when they start reading.

Journal Entry 6 by harmaja at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Friday, December 19, 2008

Released 13 yrs ago (12/19/2008 UTC) at Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland

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Released in a BC meeting. / Vapautuu BC-tapaamisessa.

Journal Entry 7 by Ahava from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Friday, December 19, 2008
harmaja brought the book to Finland and I was immediately caught by the story. And now that I'm on holidays, I've plenty of time to concentrate on reading :)

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