Two days before Christmas, and I wouldn’t have thought I’d have time to read. But, this is looking like a quiet sort of day – cloudy and cold, with snow on the breeze. And I think I’ll finish my current read today – The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder. Wilder is probably best known for his play: Our Town. But The Bridge of San Luis Rey earned him a Pulitzer prize in 1928. I started this novella yesterday and despite its slim size, it is taking me longer to read than I thought it would. The book is described as a moral fable – and Wilder links the characters in unusual ways. I’ll share more thoughts after I’ve finished it.
Last week I completed my read of I Am The Messenger, by Markus Zusak (read my review here). I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as The Book Thief, but it is worth the read. Zusak is one author I’ll be keeping my eye on. He is brilliant.
I read my second Kiran Desai book this week: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard (read my review here). The novel was a bit of a disappointment. Desai writes beautiful, lyrical prose … but her characters in this book are a bit strange. The novel is touted as a satire of Indian culture – and the humor is entrenched in the Indian experience, which may be why the book felt like it passed me by. Earlier in the year I read her Booker prize winning novel: The Inheritance of Loss (read my review here), which I enjoyed. But, that said, it forced me to do some research on my own to understand the subtleties of the story and it was work to wade through. I’ve given Desai two goes … and my feeling toward her work is this: strong beautiful writing, but weak character development. I’d have to think twice before reading another of her novels.
I finally finished The Bridge of San Luis Rey – in between making Swedish meatballs, Cardamon Bread, and prepping other food for our big dinner tomorrow. I haven’t yet written a book review. I must admit to being a little …well, confused might be a good word. I’m not a dummy. I have a professional degree and did well in college. I love reading award winning fiction. But, I have to admit to being less than thrilled about this novella. First of all, it is only just over 100 pages and it took me two days to slog through it. There were some good parts, but most of it was just plain work to read. I know this is supposed to be this very intellectual, literary morality tale…but I turned the last page and said “huh?” The book I read had a wonderful introduction by Russell Banks, and a good Afterword provided by the publisher. But, I still thought there was far too much intellectualizing and very little basic information about what this book was about. From what I can gather, Wilder’s goal was to ask questions and pose ideas and readers were left to come to their own conclusions. I guess I would have liked a little more structure. I’ll think about this one for a day or so and eventually write a review. In the meantime, have any of you read this one? What did you think? Anyone else think it is over rated? Or am I just not in a philosophical mood?