Despite those prejudices, I am so glad I am reading this! I had heard wonderful things about Truong's previous novel, The Book of Salt, so I knew I would be able to find something nice to say to her if I got to sit near her by the author dinner. Oh, will I ever!
The title refers to the fact that the narrator, Linda, has synesthesia that makes her taste words as she hears and speaks them. (This is quite different from the girl who can taste emotions in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, but I do find myself wanting to read Bender's book just to think about these characters who are so affected by taste.) This element of the story is fascinating, but it is sometimes distracting as well-- during dialog, we read the words and the tastes they evoke to Linda. Example: "Did youcannedgreenbeans readpotatochips it?" I understand that the tastes are distracting and disorienting to Linda, but they're even more so to a reader. Yes, it helps us empathize with her sometimes-torment with the "incomings" (taste perceptions linked to words), but because the tastes are not really linked to the words themselves, I am starting to skip/skim the italicized words. And that bothers me a little, because Truong is such a good writer that I have to believe that every word is deliberate, and I should give every word its deserved attention. Like Linda, I have to anesthetize myself somewhat, and that bugs me sometimes.
But there's so much to savor in this book, too!
I love, love, love Linda's friendship with neighbor Kelly. Their letters to one another remind me of childhood correspondence that deepened friendships in my life. I also adore Linda's great uncle Baby Harper. He will be dancing in my mind long after this book is over!
I have about 50 more pages to go. I'm not rushing to finish it because I want to linger. It's that kind of novel. Ahhhh.