Saturday, September 06, 2008

Maybe it Wasn't Such a Book of Rubbish

Okay, so maybe the book wasn't total rubbish. It was a great concept that had me inspired and excited to take time to write. But, I did get rather bored with it. Wait...I don't think I have told you the book yet. Have I?

The last book I read was The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I was really looking forward to reading it when I purchased it with a gift card in January. I had seen reviews for it in a couple of different places and it sounded like a writer's kind of book.

The concept behind the book is brilliant. It all hinges on one decision and then the book takes two directions from the decision-making point. Every chapter has two versions based on whether she kisses a man or not. Does she taste the fruit and get kicked out of eden (aka her long-term relationship) and is content with the new knowledge of infidelity, her sexuality and being all-around the person she wasn't before? Or, does she behave and do as society would dictate?

I was loving the book through the first half and then began to lose interest in the character's self-absorbed, yet naive, attitude. Not to mention some of the mundane in the book was beginning to wear me out. To be fair to the writer, she has an extraordinary vocabulary and she has a strong grasp for the human condition. She does a wonders expressing the deep-down of her main character/narrator. But, the whole book is told from the first person. I yearned for another voice. I ached for the perspective of the complex characters she introduces me to me.

I finished reading the book while I was on vacation a week ago. And, frankly, I was relieved that it was finally over. I was satisfied with the ending and it wrapped everything up nicely, but I didn't care to meet her character again which is generally a rarity for me when I read books. I can usually find some redeeming quality for a character so that I still want to peek behind their eyes again in the future. But, not this one.

After a week of marination and thought...the book wasn't total rubbish. As a writer, I can now appreciate the fact that the author gave me a perfectly voyeuristic view into the life of a common person. She let me see the struggle, pain, passion, and imperfection that exists in other lives outside of mine. Yes, we know people are generally like us, but sometimes it is hard to remember this when you are trying to get a clear view through our everyday mess, wonder, awe, and just general living.

I am the kind of person who reads a book to get away. I like faraway places. I adore happy endings. I like books that take me away from my everyday stress. This book showed that real life, without firework-creating kisses and violin soundtracks in the background, can be art. It can be inspiration for a book that can fascinate the reader. And, it can be written well.

With that, I have found some additional strength and encouragement to continue writing my book. So, maybe the book wasn't all rubbish. But, it won't keep me from turning it into the bookstore for credit toward another book.

Post Script: Current read is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Love her writing and was fortunate enough to borrow this from a friend.


Rachel said...

Let me know what you think of Jhumpa Lahari's book. I read one of her's, what was it called? Um, The Blah blah blah of Loss. curse my memory. Anyway, I loved her writing too but I remember finishing it and feeling really unfulfilled. Maybe that was the whole point.

Rachel said...

INHERITANCE! The Inheritance of Loss. I remembered it as soon as I hit Publish the Comment.