Etta and Otto and Russell and James10 Jun 2015
Hooper’s writing is lovely. She picked an aesthetic (fable-esque) and executed it well throughout the book. However, it never pulled me in completely. I always felt an arm’s length away from the emotional life Hooper built for Otto and Etta. I liked them both, and Russell and of course James - James is easy to love though. But I never felt like I had a stake in whatever happened to them next.
I often go on 4 or 5 hour runs or bike rides, so the meditative sense of flowing from past to present that characterized Etta’s walking was familiar. Hooper captured that state well. However, in the long list of walking books, I wouldn’t say this one is particularly memorable. It seems to capture the Canadian country side well (or at least what I imagine it must be like given my touchstone of Midwestern upbringing), which Hooper grew up in.
I suppose the first sentence of this review ultimately captures why I never really connected with this book. Fables have never really done it for me. I’m much more likely to get swept up in gritty ultra-realism rather than magical realism.