The Books of My Numberless Dreams

What I’m Reading

Posted on: January 1, 2007

As it turns out litlove posted about Me Talk Pretty One Day and I read it as Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim because I comprehend English on a higher level. (Or I actually read more about the latter than the former on blogs. I prefer the superior explanation as should you.) The first few pages only made me smirk occasionally and I wondered if I had made a mistake. I rarely go for the straight humorous books except for Bill Bryson (in carefully monitored measures). Then the two neighbourhood kids turned up with their parents begging for candy on Nov. 1st–Sedaris is right, going door to door asking for candy on any day other than Oct. 3oth is begging–because they had missed Halloween and I cackled and cackled often.

I imagine this book is technically a memoir so it was funny to find both Chapters and Amazon listing it under “fiction”. Whether these things really happened to him or not does not affect the humour for me, thankfully. Somewhere on the net I spied a post on Amy Sedaris and how is neither funny live or in the written word. It must suck to be the less talented sibling. Anyway I’m having a ball with it and would tell you all to buy it post-haste except that you have either read it or already have it on your To Buy list. If you are someone who typically runs screaming in the opposite direction when yet another writer pushes out another sappy memoir about their Hard Life and How I Overcame It And Now Live in Suburbia/Manhattan don’t be afraid of Sedaris. He is even trying to wrap a sappy memoir in humour while sneaking in gratuitous pity moments. Despite being gay in the halcyon days of hippiedom in suburbia and a former drug addict neither of these facts are placed in the spotlight for you to weep and exclaim over. They’re mentioned when necessary and omitted if not. Bless you Sedaris.

 My Name is Red is going…well. It really is. I am impressed by the variety of characters Pamuk can give distinctive voice to in the novel and the way he connects each of their stories so that it retains the feel of a novel rather than a collection of interconnected short stories. It has opened many windows to the classic Islamic literature (mostly Persian) and Islamic art, the themes they tackled and its forms. It’s informative to see it as casually referenced as classic Western lit is referenced in our contemporary works. I’m even better able to understand the artistic realism issue in their religious art. I hope I do not come off as a hick, mouth open in amazement at references to Jami and Nezami (golly!) in a novel by a Turkish author (what did she expect? Milton and Blake?). When one reads about these things in a novel by a competent author who effectively weaves it into the plot, the ideas of the characters and the themes he wants to develop the information coalesces in a far more substantial (and pleasurable) manner than when reading a short Reuters article. Of course one must always keep in mind that one is reading a novel not an encyclopedia. (And it may be obnoxious but I hate the idea of anyone pucking up a Pamuk book in order to learn more about the Muslims.)

I don’t know if it can be properly termed a problem but…the narrative does not often compel me to continue. There are times when I’m reading and I consciously set the book aside and I know the reasons lie with me rather than the novel. With Red…it is too easy to put it aside. The characters change places, telling me their story, but very few are at all trying to persuade me to listen to the next part (except Shekure and the drawn figures: Death, Tree, Dog). The general attitude is very much a “hey this is my story, take it or leave it, I don’t care” and, with an easily distracted reader like myself, I am as inclined to leave them as to take them up. This is disappointing since the first chapter where the murder victim speaks I was gripped. (Firmin would have killed for the opening line, heck for the first paragraph.) Thank god for book club deadlines–I truly feel that finishing the book in its entirety will be a rewarding experience.

I’ve kinda abandoned Art as Experience a matter which I will rectify tomorrow. I’m not worried though because it is the kind of book of which I’ll read a chapter or two per month and be perfectly satisfied, able to pick up where I left off with little trouble.

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4 Responses to "What I’m Reading"

I found Snow slow-moving at times too — and yet I really liked it. I guess that’s standard for Pamuk maybe.

Aha, I knew I had read of a similar experience on someone’s blog but I had forgotten. Perhaps it is! At least I’m more reassured that the effort will be worth it.

I must say I think Amy Sedaris is hilarious on Strangers with Candy – but I’ll take one of Mr. Sedaris’ essays any day.

Oh wait did she go on the Colbert Show and do this weird dance routine with him? If that was her you’re absolutely right, she’s hilarious, and that other blogger was silly silly (although he was talking about her new book and her appearance on a radio show as opposed to film work).

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