Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: Auraria

Author: TimWestover
Title: Auraria
Description: Based on legends from rural Georgia, this book describes the efforts of James Holtzclaw to purchase land for his employer, a land developer who has a complex plan to build a dam, a hotel, and a center of industry near the tiny town of Auraria. Formerly known for its gold (which is still present, but makes no one rich), Auraria has an odd assortment of residents, including some ghosts, some recluses, and some eccentric folks looking to get rich. Holtzclaw observes the strange goings-on without becoming rattled, but he is shaken when it appears that there might not be enough capital to finish the project. Likewise, he wonders how he might get some of this wealth for himself.
Review source: Library Thing early reviewers
Plot: It took me quite a while to figure out what the plot might be. Though it centers on Holtzclaw, the action revolves around him; he himself is passive through much of the early portion of the book. As the Queen of the Mountains hotel is built, however, a plot begins to emerge.
Characters: I wouldn’t say that the book is character-driven. Many of the characters are known only by their oddities. The main characters act, or are acted upon, but their motives remain hidden.
Writing style: This book is magical realism via the rural south, something quite new to me. Since the characters weren’t the strong point, I kept reading early on mostly to find out what bizarre happening would be next. By the end of the book, though, the author has us thinking about some big ideas: what is happiness? What is money for? How much is enough? What are the moral/ethical issues centered around Americans’ identity as consumers and tourists?
Audience: This is literary fiction. It would be especially of interest to those who have an interest in local Georgia history or in southern fiction.
Wrap-up: By the end of the book, I was mighty impressed, but the beginning was powerful slow. That’s the main reason it gets 4/5*

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