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31 Oct 2005

Two Books.

Written by sally @ 2:56 pm — Section: sally

Meg Wolitzer’s The Position was everything I hoped it would be: a family drama that was extremely well-written and that surprised me and made me laugh. There is also something to be said for the moment where you know what’s going to happen and then it looks like it won’t happen and then oh! it happened! And somehow you feel victorious just for sitting there and reading about it.

But then again.

Good writers — and good filmmakers — do not introduce random characters for no good reason. They shouldn’t anyway. And so it is easy at times to guess who the killer is going to be or who’s going to fall in love with who because it would be a cheap, dirty trick — a Kate Chopin trick — to make a character pop in, say hello, do a little dance, join someone’s book club or have them get hit by their car or find their manuscript on a dusty shelf in the study and then have them pop out again, never to be heard from again.

Television operates under totally different rules. On Law and Order, the last-minute twist, the discovery of a long-lost sister or overlooked phone records, is key to the viewer experiencing the surprising reveal. Maybe it’s because I’m only investing an hour into thinking about what’s going on instead of many hours reading a book that it doesn’t piss me off when Vincent D’Onofrio comes up with the answer that there’s no way I could have thought of given the evidence.

I’m reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss right now, and all I can say is wow. Real, painful characters and a plot that covers decades and a literary mystery and quotes from books that only exist in the world of the characters (a device I love — “The Pension Grillparzer” comes to mind). . . it’s a real book. I’m almost done with it, and the three main plots are beginning to intersect in tiny places, and although I don’t know everything that’s going to happen, I trust the author implicitly that her version of things will be the correct and only one.

5 Responses to “Two Books.”

  1. Liz said:

    I really liked that book, too. What’d you think of it compared to Jonathan Safran Foer’s new one (can never think of correct title)? I thought it was like they had the same assignment, but wrote wholly original books based on the assignment. I also think hers is better.

  2. sally said:

    I haven’t read the Foer book. I haven’t read either of his books for some reason. I think the reason is that he kind of looks like someone I know and it creeps me out a little to imagine that this person wrote a couple of books, even though it’s not really Jonathan Safran Foer. Ok, so that’s kind of a dumb reason not to read something that people keep telling me to read, but hey.

  3. Calla said:

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is WONDERFUL.

  4. dvc said:

    Well put Liz, I think Nicole Krauss put up the better book, myself. I will trust you will have gotten to the end of ‘History..’ by the time you see this, Sally. Hell of an ending, eh? After finishing it I seem to recall just sitting quietly for half an hour with a bemused smile on my mind, the book resting in my hands.

  5. sally said:

    That was a hell of an ending. And I very much appreciated the spacing on the page, as it is so easy to accidentally skim to see what’s going to happen next. I loved that I couldn’t cheat — the forced suspense really worked.

    I can’t tell you, though, how sad it made me. And yet. How happy.