Sunday, 14 November 2010

Book Reviews

I still haven’t finished this month’s book club book, shame on me, but I have to admit that I really like Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of short stories about Indian immigrants trying to find their way in the USA, despite that I’m not really a fan of the genre. Unaccustomed Earth is a powerful piece of fiction. Needless to say, I’m not only tremendously behind on my reading but also on my book blogging as well. Here are a few books that have kept me company the past few weeks (excluding my daily dose of cook books):

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen took me ages to finish. All the hype surrounding this novel (“best book of the year” and “The great American novel”) made me really curious despite the fact that I wasn’t that impressed by his previous so-called-masterpiece The Corrections. Freedom, for me, was mediocre at best. Granted, Franzen is an exceptional writer and the scope of his novel is baffling but the core story is simply boring and filled with lame whining characters. Impressive, sure. Entertaining, I think not. It’s clear why people love his work; it’s filled with beautiful sentences that intertwine several profound and contemporary issues. Plus the critics adore him and nobody in their right mind would doubt them, right? To me Franzen is like Impressionism, stunning at first glance but when you take a closer look, it’s one big mess.

In Lucia’s Eyes or Een Schitterend Gebrek in Dutch, was recommended to me by a customer who insisted that it was the most beautiful novel she had ever read. I gave Arthur Japin’s book a go so I could say that I’ve read at least two Dutch novels this year, the other being Sprakeloos by Tom Lanoye which conjured up the same feelings as Freedom did (pretentious, overrated and bland). Anyway, Lucia tells the story of Cassanova’s first love and the hardships she has to overcome in a world filled with poverty, prostitution and smallpox. Although it was slightly predictable, I did enjoy the story and the atmosphere. It’s sentimental, dramatic and great fun for a rainy day. Japin hasn’t won me over just yet butvhe has convinced me to give Dutch literature another go. Maybe I’ll make it one of my new year’s resolutions, who knows? The only downside for me about reading in Dutch, is that it takes me twice as long. Strange but true.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron (director of movies such as You’ve got mail, Julie and Julia and When Harry met Sally) was short, bittersweet and just ok. Nigella Lawson raved about it but I’ll definitely think twice before I take any reading tips from a TV chef again. She should stick to cooking and I shouldn’t be so gullible. Heartburn is semi-autobiographical and tells the tale of Rachel, a cookery writer, who discovers that her husband is in love with another woman while she is seven months pregnant. It is a confessional tale filled with loss, revenge and several recipes. You get the picture.

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