Thursday, February 02, 2006
Sometimes I pick up a book or start reading a book solely because it has won an award. I know that the saturation of awards has made most awards worthless, but I still find myself looking to them. Once again I've been let down. Lily Tuck's The News From Paraguay won the National Book Award, but shouldn't have. It's a choppy book, full of jutting paragraphs, short chapters, underdeveloped characters and a so-called protagonist that Tuck failed to give structure to. How this novel won the NBA is beyond me. My friend and I were recently talking about the poor writing of our peers in grad school. How the writing was embarrassing to read. Sort of like this blog. Well, Tuck's novel was like that. It was as if a grad student's manuscript somehow got through the editors at Perennial and was published by gross neglect.
When reading a book I have to 'like' the main character. I don't know how else to describe it. I don't want to sympathize, empathize, or love the character; just like. Tuck's Ella Lynch is such an underdeveloped character that it makes the novel seem like whole parts were edited out and the structure was never reshaped. Why would I care to keep reading about an Irish woman that falls for an arrogant man while living in Paris, becomes pregnant, moves to Paraguay with him, he becomes dictator, have more of his children, never marry him, allow him to keep lovers, cheers him on as he starts war with three countries and devastates his home country? Maybe it's just me.
J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello
volume I of Shelby Foote's Civil War
Oh yeah, I should mention, my sister graduated college last Friday!! She's "growns up, is growns up"