Three Cups of Tea

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I've been late in my discussion of this book, which I finished about three weeks ago.

It's the "true" story of Greg Mortenson, a man who dedicated his life to building schools in central Asia, beginning with remote areas of Pakistan.  I have quotation marks about the "true" part because at times, the book reads more like a gospel than a narrative, focusing on how great the guy is.  Often in explicitly tells us, the readers, of that fact.  And that's just irritating.

My major complaint, however, is the writing.  The man who actually wrote it (though Mortenson is billed as one of the authors) is a reporter, and it shows.  The writing is in a disjointed, temporally scattered style that is well-suited for shorter pieces of reporting, but is just confusing in a novel.  It will often have a few sentences about something that happened in one place and time, then jump back to another, but without sufficient transition to signal to the reader that that's what is happening.  I found myself having to re-read paragraphs several times: once to get a general idea of what was happening, and again to actually get the content.  That's just irritating.

The same trend continues in some of the dialog.  A paragraph might begin with a discussion about one person, followed by a line of dialog ending with "[somebody completely different] said."  This is irritating because we're trained to associate the speech with the character who was just being discussed, and it's jarring to find that the dialog came from someone else.

That said, the story is good, and for anybody not familiar with life in that part of the world, it can be a great introduction.  It's important to understand the cultures and the people that are different from us, and this provides some insight.

In short, I'm glad to have read it, though the actual reading was painful.

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This page contains a single entry by Mackenzie published on April 8, 2008 6:59 AM.

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