Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Brick Wall of My Bougeois Taste

As in, once again I've run up against the brick wall of the fact that there's a quality of good "literary" fiction that I just can't take.

So I'm not going to be reading Giraffe. I'm quitting after the requisite 10%, plus a few more pages, and I would normally not be bothered by finding out, this early in the process, that a particular book is not my cup o' tea. But I had been SO excited about this book. Also, I have to say, I'm still really curious about the plot. What did happen to the giraffes? Why were they shot? But I think that finding out how it ends is a good enough reason to plow through, say, the last quarter of a book, not getting into the first 50 pages.

So what don't I like about it? Well, so far, it's the atmospheric nature of the book. So far the only things that have actually happened were 1) giraffes are caught and sorted, and 2) guy who studies giraffe circulatory systems is called to the government office, told he'd be fetching the giraffes from the ship and brining them to the zoo, and then goes home. We also have elaborate descriptions of the office he sits in, his route home, and his house. This is something like 40 pages in. Literally, nothing else happens. There are a lot of poetic moments--vignettes of things like him walking along the river and imagining an elderly couple watching him from the window of their apartment, and a flashback to how his architect mother designed the high dive of an important municipal pool and how the family went annually to view said pool and high dive.

Also, there's the pervasive misery of every book that takes place in a communist country, as though (and I think I've said this before) the sun never shone in Czechoslovakia.

So I am done. Stick a fork in me. Kris, next time we have lunch you will tell me how the book ends, and I will be done. I'm sorry; I feel like a bit of a failure, but it's over between me and this book. I'm reading Princess Academy, a young adult book by Shannon Hale, and Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, as well as Exodus. Speaking of Till We Have Faces and Exodus in the same sentence, Becky, if you're out there, you should read The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood. It's a strange little slip of a book, but I think you'd really like it.

Next time:, library arrivals, and a meditation on whether it's really completely respectable to read this much YA.

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