Secrets of Eden

Secrets of Eden: A NovelI often wonder why I end up reading books like the 'Secrets of Eden'.  Is it because I must read something because its out there or is it because I have this misbegotten belief that there might be something redeeming in a book, any book, of really any kind. That is a huge fallacy that often overtakes the mind of active readers: If you are reading it must be good. Nothing can be far from the truth. Most of what I read is bearable at best and junk at worst. But read I must because I think I believe in the power of the book as an unbridled source of open-ended entertainment. A belief that gets tested almost constantly. Chris Bohjalian's Secrets of Eden certainly put that belief through a ringer. It was particularly off-base even for my taste that is generally not very well-defined.

Secrets of Eden is a tale of domestic violence that ends up, as domestic violence often does, in criminal violence and death. The plot revolves around the involvement of a local minister in a sleepy old Vermont town, with the deceased, in the rather sordid affair. However, the real clunker is the presence of a new-age writer who apparently has a lot to say about the whole affair. Bohjalian plays a double card. He introduces new-age in the book while mocking at it the same time. It is a clever trick and I am sure it has done him well given the popularity of the book. To me the new-age chapters, of angels in the world, and how they touch you and save you, was far more than a drag - it was painfully boring, which is really the only compelling reason I have for disliking most things that come my way.  And then of course there is the surprise of an ending or so we are made to believe. As far as surprise endings go, there are very few that shock us anymore and this surprise ending is so plainly predictable that one wonders why the writer even went through the motions. He might actually have had more material and less fluff had he not indulged in its business.

I felt 'taken' in the very beginning of the book. I could tell where it was going but I kept going anyway. I think I know why. I am a sucker for crime-thrillers. I think that's what it comes down to. I think that's why I read books like these and that's why the Millennium Trilogy has been so enjoyable to read. This fiction may be pulp but it is certainly pulp worth its salt.