This was fine. I didn't enjoy it the way I did White Teeth, and yet, I wasn't offended by it in the way I was by On Beauty. Nevertheless, I guess I feThis was fine. I didn't enjoy it the way I did White Teeth, and yet, I wasn't offended by it in the way I was by On Beauty. Nevertheless, I guess I felt it was somehow lazy. Not sure I can put a finger on exactly how. Perhaps it is something to do with it having part of what I like about Zadian writing (the occasional non-narrative sentences that pithily nail some insight about a universal human condition that, whether pr not such shared condition exists, speaks to the reader bc it feels like the wisest and cleverest 'inside message' of a greeting card. A card you wish existed so you could buy it for mom or spouse or child so they'd truly and finally understand how you really feel) but without enough supporting scaffolding for individual characters. Without that scaffolding, the odd "here's a koan" sentence doesn't make the same impact bc those sentences seem to come from Zadie, rather than being unique to the distinct characters/voices she's created. I suppose, but I'm not positive, that this is what I thought seemed a bit lazy when compared to the other 2 novels I read....more
This book has 4 medium-longish Frank Bascombe stories, but only the final story Deaths of Others gave me the kind of thrill that I've often experienceThis book has 4 medium-longish Frank Bascombe stories, but only the final story Deaths of Others gave me the kind of thrill that I've often experienced during the Bascombe novels. Part of it might be that the final story simply moved me more than the others, but I also think the Frank "voice" was just more virtuosic in the final story.
Overall, it suffered for me because of the attention paid to race as seen through the lens of Obama's ascendency and presidency. This focus is a common theme (along with death and retirement/purpose) that runs throughout all 4 stories. Now I know Ford loves to have Frank discuss US presidents and let those discussions attempt to demonstrate something meaningful about the state of America, but here I was never sure if I was supposed to have the negative reaction I had to Frank's seemingly endless (and clueless) invoking of Obama to somehow show he's not a racist like everyone else in New Jersey. If it was meant as a shot at every white liberal who pats him or herself on the back as racially enlightened bc of their Obama vote while still clinging to retrograde race opinions, it was brilliant. If it reflects Ford's inner life, it's gross. Basically there's a whole lot of "my black friend" going on when the black people in the stories are at best merely acquaintances, or at worst, the President....more
This is the fourth Saul Bellow novel I have completed and I enjoyed it. I think I will always enjoy reading/listening to Bellow (not the posthumous RaThis is the fourth Saul Bellow novel I have completed and I enjoyed it. I think I will always enjoy reading/listening to Bellow (not the posthumous Ravelstein, that thing is a mess) without actually loving Bellow. We just don't share enough of the same values for me to identify to the point that I fall in love.
That said, I bet I read a Bellow every few years until I shuffle off my coil. I respect what he does. I liked this and Herzog (I liked Herzog a bit better I think) very much, didn't think Augie March is as good as either of those and, as I said, Ravelstein was a tragic money grab.
Note on the audiobook production I listened to (I got it from audible). It is not good. Obviously not unlistenable, but there are too many lengthy pauses where there have been obvious cuts and restarts along with an annoying, though occasional, echo or background conversations that are very quiet but still make it feel like (at least through headphones) that there are additional voices in your head when you only want Charlie Citrine in there.