Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thoughts on Box of Pandoras

I was wondering what the class thought so far of the book Box of Pandoras? I'm only halfway through it at this point, (will be finished with it tomorrow night), but personally, I can't seem to get into the narrator's head, even when there's comments that a woman of her age and nature would say. I am a guy after all, as is the author, but something doesn't click between myself and the narrative.

Secondly, I really like Mitzi and Nannette. They kind of remind me of a combination between Rita Skeeter (from the Harry Potter series) and Michelle Pfeiffer. That's just simply what my brain cast them to be. However, their characters seem to be overdone (in a good way I suppose). Everything Mitzi does is outlandish, outrageous, frivolous, and very exaggerated, while Nannette is the exact opposite, but they complement each other perfectly. I think the author had a great time writing these characters into the plot.

Thirdly, for me, the story seems to be driven almost completely by the females in the story. There's the narrator, Loretta, who seems to always be in calm control of any situation, her friend Inez (who lets Loretta know about Mr. Girard in the first place), then Loretta's "arch-nemesis" Mitzi and "sidekick" Nannette, followed by Maria Mondragon (big part of the story - won't throw out any spoilers for anybody who hasn't read yet!) and even the very effeminate characters of Andre and Tony. I'm wondering if anybody else has picked up on this and what your thoughts might be.

Finally, the story moves at a good pace. There's no dragging out of the plot, and no extraneous details that can distract the reader from the plot. The descriptions of the characters in the story are short and to the point, and we get a first-person point of view from the narrator, Loretta, which is very different from having read Butterfly Kisses. 

What do you guys think so far, or how was the book??


  1. What's been standing out for me is the narrative style. From what position is Loretta telling this story? I thought about it for a while--she's involved with the present action, and her opinions and asides occur in the moment. Strangely, even though the story is written in the past tense from Loretta's own perspective, there are times when Loretta's narration is interrupted by other characters.

    The story's presentation almost resembles that of a stage play in which Loretta occasionally steps past the fourth wall to narrate while the scene pauses or lulls behind her. On occasion, someone in the scene drags her back into the action despite her own ultimate control over the narrative.

    I'm about 90% through the story right now, and I haven't yet decided how I feel about it. The resolution will make or break this story for me. The best aspect of it so far is that I can still see several directions the author could take toward the end. I'll be impressed if he avoids the obvious route, but disappointed if he doesn't; without a strong ending, I feel that all the originality of the narrative style might go to waste.

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  3. I finished the book last week, and what struck me most about it was the narrative style and Loretta's voice. She has a very distinct personality that's hard to immerse yourself in. The reader isn't in her mind, but really is her audience for the many times that she breaks the fourth wall. She speaks and makes jokes exactly like how a 49-year-old housewife would, and I recognized a lot of her mannerisms and judgments in some of my aunts. Her personality annoyed me occasionally, because she's very nosy and even a bit rude at times, but she's never aware of it, and I found that to be a very realistic personality and character.

    1. Emma, I agree with you. I feel like maybe the character was more difficult for us to relate to because she so clearly felt like an older woman, of which none of us are (yet). I didn't mind her breaking the fourth wall, because it sort of fit into the way she thought in general; it sort of sounds like things she might say to her kids or husband, people who hear her commentary all the time.

      Jaime, I also noticed that the plot drove forward with mostly female characters. To be honest, that's a huge relief to me after reading other hardboiled stories with either no women at all or only femme fatales. Mitzi and Nannette were great characters, and I loved that we don't know why they're following Loretta around until the end.

      I think this story get a wonderful job telling me about the cultural aspects of Santa Fe/Pandora and including their significance to the characters. Loretta noticed some things that weren't crucial to the story, but they're the types of details she would pay attention to. In comparison to "Butterfly Kisses," I think Brewer found a way to intertwine the culture and our reasons to care about it.

  4. What I found most interesting about this book was that it put a good amount of humor along with the murder mystery. On occasion when I read murder mysteries I feel that the drama and tension stresses me out and I have to take frequent breaks but while I read this book I almost read the book entirely through in 3-4 sittings. It was enthralling. The writing style was magnificent and very unique. I'm really excited to be leading discussion today on this book.

    I really enjoyed how she made the reader feel like Loretta I felt like a 49 year-old woman as well. It was a really interesting experience. Her random quirks were also really great and interesting. Especially the pills. Or rather tic-tacs.

    Even though people were killed in both books, "Box of Pandoras" and "Butterfly Kisses" the writing styles were completely different. I enjoyed "Box of Pandoras" a lot because of how enthralling the writing style was. Particularly the part about the pink toilets, me and my brother got a good laugh. It was creative and an all together great experience.

  5. Box of Pandoras was a great read. I also found myself reading it in two or three sittings. I think it had to do with the fact that it was very easy to read and it was engaging. When I was reading it, I didn’t want to put the book down because I wanted to know what else was going to happen. I desperately wanted to know who the killer was half way through the book. I thought about cheating and going all the way to the end and finding out who it was, but ultimately decided not to do that.

    My favorite character in the novel was Loretta. She reminds me a lot of people I meet on the bus. She also reminds me a little of my grandma, even though she is Hispanic and doesn’t speak English. I think it was the way Loretta said things and went after what she wanted to know without really caring about who was in her way that reminds me of my grandmother.

    I found it funny how some of us were saying yesterday that we found Loretta annoying. She is annoying! But at the same time you like her and are happy she is the main character. There is so much more to her, so many more stories she could tell or be involved in, that I can definitely see Steve writing a second novel with her in it.

  6. I really enjoyed Box of Pandoras. I like how it was an easy read, but also it had you engaged in the story line that you didn’t want to put it down. I really like the main character Loretta. I didn’t find her annoying at all and I like how she had this I’m not going to let somebody push me around, and I’m going to do what I want attitude. I think it was a different take on a housewife from a small town to decide to be independent from her husband and do something outside of her comfort zone.
    I think the author did a good job in writing from the female perspective. Like the scene where Loretta’s friend made fun of her for wearing a dress that made her look like she was wearing the bed. I cracked up at that part, because it is something a true female friend would tell you. There is also that classic feud between females that lasts forever and of course life works where you keep running into that person or that person is in charge of you.
    I like how this murder mystery kept making me guess who the culprit was. At one point I thought it was Mitzi and I was like no way that cannot be. Even in the last moments of the finding out whom the culprit was I thought it was still Mitzi and then Nannette.


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