Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Transcriptionist; Amy Rowland

The Transcriptionist; Amy Rowland
2014 - Algonquin

Set somewhere around 2004, Lena Respass is the sole transcriptionist at “The Record”, the newspaper she works for in NYC. Gone are the days of the headset and dictaphone machines where many sat and dutifully transcribed the latest news stories for the newspaper business.  Still she sits upstairs in a tiny room on the eleventh floor day after day performing her duties. When her work is done she heads home to the rooming house where she lives. Years earlier Lena gave up the pursuit of a Masters degree in Literature for her job at The Record.
Lena is a woman who seems to be okay with doing the same thing, day after day after day, until one day she reads a news story about a blind woman who broke into the lions' den at the Bronx zoo and was mauled to death -- an apparent suicide. She recalls a brief encounter with the woman just before the incident, and she becomes obsessed with finding out more about the woman and why she did what she did. 
I found Lena to be an interesting character study. She lives an isolated life -- both on and off the job. She thinks deeply and seems somewhat obsessed with words, putting a literary spin on even the mundane. For example, in her boarding house room, the pipes of her sink are exposed and dripping, soaking the carpeting day after day. As Lena lies in bed, she sees the exposed pipes and thinks it looks awful, but that a "skirt" covering the pipes would be worst, thinking. "hardware shouldn't wear costumes."  An observant woman, her quirky views of the ordinary, give a brief comic relief at times, from what could have been a very sad story. I liked the way the incident with the woman caused Lena to examine her own life.
I thought this was a very good debut novel, the author was able to paint a vivid picture of her character, the surroundings and all people she interacted with. I will be anxious to read further books by this promising new author.
4.5/5 stars
(eGalley - NetGalley)

21 comments:

  1. We have good bookending today. I didn't like Baby Bear, you did; I didn't like this book, you did. (Actually, it seems I'm more negative LOL)

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    1. OMG --that does it! You are off my blog rolls LOL

      On second thought maybe I'll just read everything you hate:)

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  2. Oh well now I want to know why Jill didn't like this one! I'm glad to see that you did, though. I was sent this one and don't know anything about it but the cover is very catchy!

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    1. It's just different. Lena is a very introspective sort and I just cared about her.

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  3. Well, I think it might be a good one!

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  4. This book has a very unique story angle, that's for sure. I do enjoy character study-driven plots, so I think I would like it. It just seems very off-balance, to have an introverted woman and a woman mauled by a lion somehow connected. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. It certainly is character driven. I loved the way the one event causes Lena to take stock of her own life and makes her think about how she will be remembered.

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  5. Hm, this might be too character driven for me. I'll have to think about it.

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  6. I've read a few reviews about this one and it definitely sounds very introspective. I may get to this one in the winter; summertime I need books that move quickly. wonderful review!

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    1. It is a bit slow moving but for me that wasn't a negative.

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  7. Adding this one to my wish list - I love books that dig into character.

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  8. I can;t decide about this one...I actually liked the "hardware shouldn't wear costumes" quote! But, it may be too slow moving for me - I think I'll wait to read a few more reviews.

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    1. It is slow moving, but for me there was a lot to like about the story.

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  9. I'd love to read a mystery about a woman obsessed with words. Good review.
    Harvee
    Book Dilettante

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  10. Sounds very interesting indeed!

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  11. I love a good character study... this sounds great!

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  12. I'm still not sure about this one. Character driven is ok if it keeps moving along.

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  13. I keep going back and forth about this one, but I'm leaning more towards wanting to read it, I think. I am glad you enjoyed it, Diane!

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  14. It looks good but maybe a little depressing. I'm finding myself getting bogged down in books that are too slow right now. Maybe it's summer?

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