Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
I Still Dream About You - Fannie Flagg I picked up Fannie Flagg's I Still Dream About You to read on a plane trip last summer. It didn't get read, and sat in my TBR pile for a full year. It probably was a message. The book is billed as a "comic mystery romp" but it's really anything but. Maggie Fortenberry is a former Miss Alabama who missed out on the Miss America crown. She's working as a real estate agent in a failing firm with a motley cast of characters (one already dead whose appearance is all in flashbacks). When the story opens, Maggie is plotting her suicide, but things keep distracting her, because she wants to be nice to people. The story is told in varying-length chapters -- many of them no more than a page and a half long -- in third person, hopping in and out of the heads of just about everyone mentioned in the book, from evil competing real estate agent Babs Babingington to bit characters like a lawyer Maggie calls for information on a potential listing. The mystery promised in the blurb? Shows up around page 175: over halfway through the book.I've enjoyed other books of Flaggs, most notably Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, but this one didn't seem to know what it wanted to be: comedy, mystery, literary fiction...Mostly, it needed an editor, because it felt like the story actually got started around page 150, by which point I'd almost marked the book as a not-going-to-finish.While some of the characters were engaging, it wasn't enough to keep me that interested, and the extra-short chapters make the book very easy to put down. If I wasn't determined to finish it, I probably would have started another book and never picked it up again. And while Flagg reveals the solution to the mystery with her head-hopping, the characters themselves don't manage to do so, which makes it an even more frustrating read.

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