Sunday, July 27, 2008


I decided to read this book because of this glowing review by Maureen Corrigan on Fresh Air. It also has 4 1/2 stars out of 5 from 60+ people on Amazon. But I just didn't get it, or at least, I'm not buying it.

This was a very strange novel. Corrigan relates it to The Great Gatsby and maybe that's my problem. I've never read The Great Gatsby. The jist of the book is a guy from the Netherlands raised by only a mother marries an English woman moves to New York and has a son. While in New York 9/11 occurs, the wife leaves and guy decides to start playing cricket again which leads to a strange attenuated relationship with a guy originally from Trinidad. And the novel meanders its way through the next 4 or so years.

But this isn't an immigrant's tale, a New York tale, even a relationship tale. It's mostly a guy's life in crisis and this guy is an emotionally stunted Dutchman. Now maybe if I were an emotionally stunted male immigrant, I'd like this too. But I'm not, and I don't. Corrigan raved about the flowery prose, but that didn't make up for what was essentially an utter lack of plot for me. Nor the giant missing detail that characters are at the tip of India at Christmas 2004 and they never mention the tsunami. You make this giant disaster of 9/11 key to your book, but you ignore the tsunami?

This was definitely a book I finished out of duty rather than desire. I would not recommend it. But there was one little part I loved.

Like an old door, every man past a certain age comes with historical warps and creaks of one kind or another, and a woman who wishes to put him to serious further use must expect to do a certain amount of sanding and planing. But of course not every woman is interested in this sort of refurbishment project . . . . p. 109

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