“The kit included every board, joist, nail, window frame, and door they would need, as well as seventy-six pages of instructions” (16).
Within the first 40 pages of A Thousand Acres, although by reading King Lear I know the basis of where to story will go, I’m finding myself utterly confused. It seems like this first section is the set-up to the entire story, giving the reader background information on the characters and the setting so that the story as a whole begins to make more sense as it progresses. However, with the amount of detail Smiley has packed into the first 40 pages, it almost seems like half of it is going to be irrelevant to the rest of the story.
For example, take the quote above where Sam and Arabella have ordered a house from Sears. While reading this, I started to lose sight of what was really important. My mind began to wander to thoughts of Ikea, and their confusing instruction manuals with things spelled out for you in German. It’s obvious that Smiley was trying to paint a picture for the reader as to what Larry grew up in compared to the amount of land he owns now and is willing giving to two of his daughters. But I’m not entirely convinced that these pieces of information Smiley has chosen to provide for the reader help develop the story. I was almost more sure of what was going on in King Lear than I do, 40 pages into A Thousand Acres.
Here is a link to a review I found in the New York Times that talks about the novel. It’s main discussion focuses on how much the reader believes Smiley will follow the plot line in King Lear. So far, I have to disagree with this article. Although it’s clear that the main storyline is the same, where the father gives his land to his daughters that ends up causing a series of chain events that bring to light some dark truths, if I wasn’t familiar with King Lear, I’m not sure I would be able to follow along with this story.