The Artificial Anatomy of Parks – Kat Gordon

Anatomy of Parks The Artificial Anatomy of Parks is the story of a family secret. Tallulah Park gets a phone call from the hospital. Her father has had a heart attack and is now unconscious. She decides to go and see him.
It is clear early on that Tallulah did not really get along with her father, and so the story begins, alternating between events from Tallulah’s childhood and the present, where she is working as a waitress, living in an old building and trying to avoid her relatives. Her father’s ill health is the reason she decides to once again come back and see her family, even though she’s been away from them for years. Why she’s stayed away for so long is explained in the end as is almost everything else.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I liked the skipping back and forth in time – the narrator, Tallulah, has an engaging voice and the breaks in her story come at the most interesting points, something I found equally intriguing and annoying. It’s like someone is about to tell you a secret but suddenly the phone rings and the moment is lost. There are plenty of moments like that throughout the story which only made me impatient to get to the end. There are family squabbles, a strained relationship between Tallulah’s mother and her father’s sisters, and then there’s Jack, her father’s brother, whose return after a long absence causes turmoil within the family and brings about a tragic incident.

Tallulah seems apathetic for most of the time, and I did not find her a particularly likeable character. After going away to live by herself she seems almost lifeless and I couldn’t help comparing her with her father, a seemingly cold and uninteresting man who seemed to do anything in his power to avoid spending time with his daughter. Later on in the story I felt pity for her, for the tragedies she had to go through, and a tiny bit of admiration for the way she had managed to survive, but overall I wished I liked her more. Uncle Jack was the real mystery of the book, and the part he had to play in Tallulah’s life. It seems that even if he tried to do good, all he was able to do was to bring about more heartache.

From dealing with abuse to anatomical references concerning the workings of the heart (my favorite part), this novel manages to be somehow heart-warming and almost indifferent at the same time, an odd combination which works startlingly well overall.
There is a mystery to be revealed at the end but the part that is finally revealed is easy to see coming because of all the events leading up to it. The other part, the most interesting part concerning a death, is left unanswered and I’m still thinking about it because I felt there was no closure. On one hand I agree that not everything needs to be resolved in a novel but on the other hand I really wish I had the answer to this one. But then, thinking back to the name of the novel, this seems like a fitting way to end the story.

I got this book from the publisher, Legend Press, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 3/5 stars
Read in June 2015

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10 Responses to The Artificial Anatomy of Parks – Kat Gordon

  1. TB Markinson says:

    It’s hard when you don’t relate with or completely like the character. Sometimes it works brilliantly, and other times it falls flat.

  2. Priya says:

    This sounds like such a curious book. To be honest, deliberately keeping secrets from the reader to build mystery usually irritates me more than intrigues. But if the resolution is worth the wait, then perhaps it’s not so bad after all. 🙂

    • Delia says:

      We think alike, Priya. Not sure if this was worth the wait, though. It reminds me of Julian Barnes and his book “The Sense of an Ending”, but there at least you know at the end what happened. In this case, not really, not all of it.

  3. Brian Joseph says:

    Unresolved ending can be so very frustrating.

    Sometimes an author clearly employs this advice for a good reason, for example, to illustrate that is the way that life often works. When it is done for such thematic or aesthetic reasons such a technique is understandable.

    With that said, sometimes such endings leave me terribly unfilled.

    • Delia says:

      Yes, it can, Brian. I felt the whole story would have been better if we were told the circumstances of the death of a certain character. That would have felt like closure. Or maybe it’s just my interpretation – we, as readers, bring our own hopes and expectations into the story. I’ve read a few reviews on Goodreads and nobody else seems to share the same opinion.

  4. Deb Atwood says:

    It sounds more like you didn’t like it than that you did. I’m curious about the genre of this one. Would you characterize it as Women’s Fiction or Literary? If it’s literary, then perhaps there is more justification for ambiguity–like some of those classics that end mid-sentence, for example.

    I have to say I love the title.

    • Delia says:

      I’m somewhere in the middle, Deb. I liked some parts but wasn’t so keen on others.
      As far as I know this falls into the Literary category but if you ask me it could be both. I wouldn’t compare this with the classics, though.
      The title is intriguing. At first I thought it was about parks, you know, the ones where you go take a walk, and I thought, now that’s interesting, somebody wrote a story about parks. Great, I want to read that. 🙂 It’s a clever way to disguise what the book is about and the title fits perfectly with the whole story.

  5. Vishy says:

    Nice review, Delia. I love the title! It is interesting that the story get interrupted at important scenes where a secret is about to be revealed and the story moves in a different direction, making the reader want to turn the pages and find out what happened – an interesting writing style. I hope the author didn’t overuse it. Interesting to know that the ending is good in parts – that you liked one part of it and the other was left unresolved. Sometimes unresolved endings are frustrating and at other times they add to the story. I mostly like the endings to be resolved 🙂

    • Delia says:

      Hi Vishy,
      Yes, the title is quite catchy, isn’t it? I don’t mind unresolved issues but in this case the one I wanted to find about the most was left a mystery. It’s personal. 🙂

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