Thursday, November 1, 2007

Book Review: Seymour Shubin, Witness to Myself (2006)

The first half of Witness to Myself is very good. The protagonist knows that, years ago, he assaulted a girl--but did he kill her? Seymour Shubin does a nice job of ratcheting up the narrative tension as we eventually learn the answer. The second half is substantially weaker, in part because the same sense of drama is never there. But the novel's most serious flaw is its bizarre POV: The story is narrated by the protagonist's cousin and childhood buddy, but he narrates as if he has access to the protagonist's every thought and sensory experience. In other words, it's as if the protagonist is narrating the novel--but he's not. As I was reading, I assumed that this arrangement would eventually have some kind of pay-off, but it never does. It's a weird choice by Shubin that serves only to distract. Grade: C-