I was amazed by how restrained the writing is. Eggers allows the plotline, that is, the events and their sequence, to tell the story. It is a highly pI was amazed by how restrained the writing is. Eggers allows the plotline, that is, the events and their sequence, to tell the story. It is a highly political story, but the treatment of it is not politically charged. Adjectives, characterization, emphasis, all of that is kept to a minimum. Sometimes the narrative is a bit too dry (forgive the pun) but eventually it becomes necessary if the climactic moments of Zeitoun's experience are to be felt and understood in their full force, on a personal rather than ideological level. Having lived in the Middle East (including Syria) I can understand Zeitoun's somewhat unnerving personality traits, as well as the persistent concern of his family on the other side of the Atlantic. Eggers' decision to include background information (through the inclusion of photographs and Zeitoun's reflective flashbacks as he contemplates his life during the quiet moments stranded in his NOLA family home) I think is valuable to understanding the Syrian temperament and how it plays out in Zeitoun's story. ...more
It's a quick read. Fortunately, the romance genre clichés appear infrequently ("hooded eyes" appearsRecently I made a bet with myself regarding FSOG.
It's a quick read. Fortunately, the romance genre clichés appear infrequently ("hooded eyes" appears twice, compared with 9 in FSOG). The couple meet over a gruesome discovery of skeleton bones; the heroine seems to smell and feel ominous presences that others are oblivious to. The paranormal element is an interesting touch, building up dramatic tension for the reader's benefit without pitting the two protagonists in a contrived conflict or misunderstanding, just to keep the story moving forward (as was the case with FSOG). ...more
It was an interesting read, but nothing exceptional. Stylistically, it was a bit mixed up. On the one hand the narrative uses the first-person vernacuIt was an interesting read, but nothing exceptional. Stylistically, it was a bit mixed up. On the one hand the narrative uses the first-person vernacular, and yet there is authorial control of what is said & not said. The ideas & themes that are highlighted (by dint of repetition or elision) are, in my opinion, 'white' rather than 'black.' Basically the 'black' characters are not speaking in character despite the accuracy of their diction, if this makes any sense. In this way I felt the narrative was limited and contrived. Another aspect that seemed contrived to me was the frequent mention of books about class and race, eg. Gone with the Wind, Invisible Man, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, etc. I ended up appreciating more the subtheme of women's oppression, if one can call it that. The maids sympathize with their employers in that respect, even though they cannot communicate it openly and verbally. ...more
This was an easygoing and light read, despite its serious subject matter. Even though Kimberly's situation is unique and fascinating, the narrative foThis was an easygoing and light read, despite its serious subject matter. Even though Kimberly's situation is unique and fascinating, the narrative follows a predictable development, and did not distinguish itself in any particular way. ...more
I tried to read Eat, Pray, Love and did not get far into it before I gave up. The author is just too full of herself, and has a tendency to OrientalizI tried to read Eat, Pray, Love and did not get far into it before I gave up. The author is just too full of herself, and has a tendency to Orientalize that which is unfamiliar to her own culture and point of view. In Committed she does it again. This time, though, I read to the last page of the book. Mainly because I was curious to find out if she at any point was going to say anything of substance about the Department of Homeland Security bizarre imposition on her and her partner's freedom of movement. Not much insight into that. But also not much insight into marriage either. Most of the so-called research is highly selective, and often relies on pithy statements by literary figures or commentators rather than on any indepth historical facts or sociological data. She writes about marriage from a predominantly female point of view, even though in the book's opening she claims she is known for thinking & writing "like a man." We really don't get much about men's, or even specifically her husband-to-be's position, in all of this. We get a sense that Felipe the fiance is more pragmatic about the matter than she is, but she is as loathe to quote him extensively as she is to give us his real name, so we really don't learn much about his own opinions or motivations. She probably doesn't seem to understand how different their approach towards this common venture actually is. I had to restrain myself from wishing that the DHS would come up with something to deter them from marrying in the USA. The real test of commitment would be if the two of them could forge a life together anywhere. It's really puzzling to me that she ignores or makes light of the small yet not so insignificant strains and tensions while living together with Felipe in foreign lands as something topical rather than personal. ...more