Monday, January 30, 2012

A Visit from the Goon SquadA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is a while since I have finished this very acclaimed book, and the disappointment and the feeling of "a big mess" that occurred after I’d read it, are still no faded. I can't definitely call this book a novel, but rather a collection of short stories more or less linked each other. The overall sensation is of a crowd; a crowd of too many characters, times and styles, a daring but an incoherent mess. I am sorry, but I can’t stop thinking about this book as a revived Dadaist experiment, an obsolete avangardist literary attempt to mix everything up: people, voices, moods, moments, music, silence, words and slides… Power Point slides, I mean! And what it really disappointed me is that this book, or novel or whatever it could be called has even got the Pulitzer last year!
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Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Marriage Plot: A NovelThe Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took a while until I finished this book (about 3 weeks) and I believe that not only my lack of time was the true reason for reading it so slowly, but also a kind of inconsistency in its style and subject. The book starts slowly, with semiotics and readings that influence young people. I found this part not much as heavy, as more pretentions. Although the references to Victorian female writers made clear the plot of “The Marriage Plot”, those to “A Lover Discourse” by Roland Barthes were- how should I say – a little bit …forced. My first impression was that they do not necessary reason the plot/the story, but they mostly use the story in order to be displayed. I said my first impression, because reading further I discovered that what Leonard had thought when Madeline was telling him “I love you”, defined how actually Madeline comprehended not only her love for Leonard and his madness, but also her attitude toward marriage and life. And without this point, the first two parts of the novel tend to appear boring and overwritten. Especially the second one, when Eugenides jumped abruptly and very academically from semiotics, in the subject of genetics of the …yeast.

What I really liked very much was how the third part was written. The part in which the reader is immersed slowly and dangerously in Leonard’s illness: manic-depression; a sickness that dramatically evolves from the small differences in the intensity of how Leonard feels, until his crazy and grandiose gestures; a sickness that spreads around depression and insanity. I found, for instance, disturbing the episode from Salt Water Boutique, which gave a glimpse of madness... and not at its height.

Despite its weak points (a too long and slow beginning, a too thesistic part about how yeast daughter cells multiply themselves or split each other for a more effective survival, an almost non-convincing portrait of Mitchell), I enjoyed “The Marriage Plot”. It’s intelligent written and is challenging. But it’s still no good as “Middlesex”. Only 3 stars from my part, though I would have liked to give half more.
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