City of Pillars – Dominic Peloso

A Mini Book Expo Review

City of Pillars

Dominic Peloso

Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Invisible College Press (December 1, 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 1931468001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931468008

Shipping within Canada & US sponsored by Invisible College Press

I seem to be having a run of bad luck with my MiniBook Expo selections lately.

City of Pillars by Dominic Peloso follows the spiralling decent into madness of it’s narrator, Mitchell Sinclair, after he is mistakingly (or so he thinks)  saddled with an ancient manuscript while stopped at a commuter toll-booth in San Francisco.  A series of credibility challenging events follow the character until he has no other choice but to invest his entire existence in the pursuit of deciphering the mystery and violence.  As Mitchell Sinclair’s insatiable obsession drives him deeper into the convoluted world of the multi-lingual tome, his ethics, morals and sanity melt away.

An interesting idea to be sure, but as it is now, City of Pillars doesn’t completely work.  As one other blogger pointed out, the fundamental problem with the book is the writing.  Presented as a confessional by Mitchell Sinclair, the entire story is told in the first-person.  This approach may have worked with a more adept novelist, but Dominic Peloso doesn’t appear up to the task.  I have never read Peloso’s other work; however, an assessment based on City of Pillars would not be in his favour.

Sinclair is a very loosely drawn character and the author never really engages with the reader, save for the first couple chapters.  As the novel opens, the protagonist and his world are fascinating.  As the novel progresses, however, the outlandish and (frankly) unbelievable violence and perils that befall Sinclair leave the reader feeling bored.  The final chapters of the novel especially push the credibility of the character and the premise completely.

Had City of Pillars been presented as a longer, more in depth examination of trauma-induced insanity, I might have been more impressed; sadly, the City of Pillars I read was unimpressive.

~ by seangstm on March 26, 2009.

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