Wesley Stace: Misfortune

Misfortune - Wesley Stace

I loved this book for the whole period of Rose's childhood. It grapples with some really interesting questions of gender essentialism. The moment when Rose becomes fully cognizant of his own sex and gender is deftly written, and won me over completely.

At this point, the narration makes an awkward switch from third to first person, and it is all downhill after that. When Rose uses his ambiguous sexuality to seduce and then wound his cousin, the book stops asking questions about gender and becomes malicious. Then there's the middle part of the book, where Rose wanders abjectly through Greece, which was creative but unhelpful. I trudged through it because I thought something was going to come of it, but it didn't. Rose mentioned being altered by the experience, feeling that he had truly absorbed his friend Frannie into his physical body and now he was two, referring to himself as "we". I was expecting the book to change quite a bit after this event, since now it would be about Rose/Frannie and their experiences, but nope. In the next chapter, Rose is still Rose, the same. UGH.

The third and last part of the book, in which all the characters come together to form a ragtag band of bad dialogue and solve the mystery of Rose's parents, was amateurishly written and just not that interesting. I kept reading because other reviews hinted at a twist ending, and I thought the book might redeem itself at the end. Disappointingly, the "twist ending" involves inheritance, not character development. By this point in the book, Rose seemed dead and empty. He is breathlessly trying to find out if his childhood love, Sarah, still cares for him, but nothing important happens in the third part of the book. Many loose ends are needlessly tied up in 150 pages of tedium.

I would recommend the first 235 pages. Definitely stop reading after Chapter 3 in Part 2. I can't recommend the book as a whole.