Sarah Messick-Milone's Reviews > A Person of Interest

A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
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Nov 29, 08

bookshelves: literary-fiction
Read in November, 2008

This novel is an intriguing, intimate portrait of a man who does not seem to know how to relate intimately to others, even those he most deeply loves. Choi captures the isolation of a shy, anxious, and often arrogant man in often wry prose, marked with vivid images. The image of Lee's "many chambered anxieties" and the scene in which everything at home "seemed to have adopted a posture of conflict" against him seemed particularly apt. But by far the best writing in the novel surrounds Lee's first wife, Aileen, and her bond wih her first child. As a first time mother, these scenes really resonated with me and were heartbreaking. Equally poignant is the love Lee holds for his daughter, all the more moving because he is so terribly inept at showing it.

My main complaints with the book are:
1. It's pace -- too much time spent building to the climax (both in the past and the present) and a bit too much detail about Lee's social ineptness and character flaws. I sometimes muttered as I was reading "He's paranoid, we get it, move on!"

2. The initial spark between Lee and Aileen seemed flimsy and unbelievable. His deep and abiding love is captured subtly and lyrically later in the novel, but I never could understand what drew them together in the first place.

3. This is more a complaint against the character than the writing: Lee does a downright despicable thing to Aileen and it's hard to reconcile his love for her with his coldheartedness in this action.

Still, if you have the patience for a bit of slow pace, it's worth the work.
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