What is an example of a strength and a weakness found in Wartski'sbook, A Boat to Nowhere?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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A strength of Wartski's A Boat to Nowhere is the use of foreshadowing to build suspense. Foreshadowing effectively builds suspense because, though it may not be noticed as it is read, the suggestions it subtly proffers and the anticipation it hints at add tension to the reader's experience of the narrative thus building suspense or building the feeling of upcoming or impending trouble or sorrow.

A good example of this strength in building suspense through foreshadowing is in the opening pages of the narrative. Loc and Hong have just run back into the Village and caused the men to go look in the forest for a "Monster Man." The women are left in the Village to keep the children safe, and one of the unnamed arguing women--arguing about what a Monster Man in the forest might mean--says, "Maybe it's over, then. They've found out about us. How could we hope to keep hidden forever?" Then later, the narrator relates that "Duc nodded. 'He's come from the city. From outside,' he said urgently." Though this foreshadowing is a little obvious, it does build suspense and a keen desire to know what the villagers are doing that they must be hidden and fearful of anyone "from the city. From outside."

This leads to a weakness of the story. Wartski's authorial style is lacking in finesse and polish. One example is the heavy-handed, so to speak, foreshadowing just spoken of: it lacks subtlety; it is foregrounded through diction in such a way that it almost cannot be missed by any level of reader. Another example of this is Wartski's choice of sentence structure. Sentences, especially at the beginning of the story, are most often short, simplistic, and staccato.

Her little brother did not answer. Mai found herself trembling. The night was warm, but it was very dark. ... She could see no friendly lanterns. Almost everyone had gone to bed.

If meant to symbolically represent the cadence of war, they accomplish this end as reading them feels like confronting raid rounds of gun fire. While Wartski's style may produce certain desired ends, it doesn't produce a polished subtle narrative: some readers and critics may consider this a weakness.

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