June 21, 2004

More reading

Briefly, thoughts on a couple of things I read recently:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I was in the mood for something light and amusing, and, as bad fiction goes, this was entertaining enough. The writing is poor: most of the adjectives and all the adverbs could be struck out to good effect, and the dialogue sounds as if the characters know they are in a suspense novel. It's amusing that every academic seems to be "venerable," "revered," or "renowned." And so many things are "astonishing"! I feel sorry for those at Harvard, where apparently all the girls smile knowingly due to their awareness of the sacred feminine.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. This was certainly an improvement over the former in terms of literary quality, but I couldn't help feeling that I was reading more or less the same story over and over again. Typically they are vignettes of a relationship that has grown stagnant, or that is collapsing. The characters all seem bored, or boring, and this makes it harder to feel any sympathy for them. Careful attention is paid to the food that is being prepared in many of the stories, and also to the characters' attire. This might help add authenticity to stories of immigrants from India, but I would have preferred that more attention be given to developing characters I could care about. Perhaps I am being too harsh: in places the stories break through this monotony and at times they are moving. The ending of the last story, musing on the strangeness of the many places and people one comes to know in a lifetime, is one example. These stories aren't bad, and if I hadn't read them all in one stretch my feeling about this book would be better.

Five more days before I go back to Chicago for a while: time to decide what to read next....

On an unrelated note, how is gmail working for people? I tried sending some mail to my gmail account from my uchicago account, and after about a day it still hasn't shown up.

Posted by Matt at June 21, 2004 02:13 AM

gmail's working for me.

Posted by: Ann at June 21, 2004 01:25 PM
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