11 January 2016

Review: Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan

My most recent audio drama review is up at USF, on a "Big Finish Classics" adaptation of a book very near and dear to my heart: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Find out what I thought!

Trade paperback, 416 pages
Published 2003  (originally 1994)
Acquired July 2014
Read December 2015
Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan

The latest installment of my intermittent quest to read novels set in my hometown of Cincinnati, the "Queen City" of the title. Of the ones I've read so far, this is definitely the most Cincinnati, down to the Roebling Suspension Bridge being featured on the back cover, and passages praising the beauty of Union Terminal. Part of my reason for reading novels set in my hometown was to access what I imagine people who live in New York City or Los Angeles experience all the time when consuming media, a feeling of familiarity. I will admit to a certain frisson when reading that the protagonist, Verity, grew up in Miamisburg (40 miles up the Great Miami from where I grew up), or travels to Lockland (where I worked for a year). Cincinnati also has a depth of history that renders it well-suited for Goonan's project here; near its end, the novel becomes about history and how we remember things, which is apt for a city some accuse of being too obsessed with its past. (It's hard for me to imagine that conservative Cincinnati could ever become the fourth city in America to vote to undergo nanotech enhancement, though; fifty-fourth seems more likely.)

I liked the protagonist, but aside from those aspects, much of this novel was frustratingly obscure. I'm not sure I really grasped what was going on except in the broadest of strokes, and I wasn't really encouraged to put the effort into figuring it out. Goonan clearly has a way with words, but that way is often confusing. There are three other books in this series, but this one was not engaging enough to incline me to read them given that the action moves away from Cincinnati.

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