Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Obligatory Reading: Part 2

This is part two of the books I need to read for my American Literature After Kennedy class. I didn't feel like writing a review for each individual book, because these aren't books I would have picked up if it wasn't for uni. So instead I decided to write about what I thought of them and why I did or did not like them.

After finishing A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, I decided to move on to Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (simply because I was able to borrow it from a friend). Almost immediately after starting this book I came to the realisation how awful it is that I liked the previous book, because this book is so different and a lot less pleasurable to read. I'm not saying it's not good but there is almost no dialogue, which makes it super easy to wander off (I haven't been able to finish Life of Pi due to a similar reason). 
The story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
As you can see the set up is very dark and depressing and the lack of dialogue does not make it better. The women in this book appear to be rather crazy or lost, without a proper explanation. Only Lucille and the third sister (of her mother Helen) seem to get on the right track . But even Lucille doesn't really explain or give a clear reason why, she just wakes up one day totally changed and different. None of it really makes sense, or maybe I just don't understand. Either way I did not really enjoy reading this book. Moving on to the next book: Glengarry Glen Ross, a play by David Mamet. Luckily for me it is only 63 pages, so if I don't like Glengarry Glen Ross, it will be over before I know it and I can always try to watch the film (not saying it's the same thing but it helps to get into the story). 
Winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, David Mamet's scalding comedy is about small-time, cutthroat real estate salesmen trying to grind out a living by pushing plots of land on reluctant buyers in a never-ending scramble for their fair share of the American dream.
The synopsis did not seem promising, of course that's only my opinion. This book is almost the exact opposite of Housekeeping. There's a lot of dialogue (which makes sense considering it's a play). We move from conversation to conversation and there is almost no background, there is no setting. All we get are those conversations, none of which were all that interesting to me because I have almost no knowledge of the business these men are in.

I honestly feel, after reading all 63 pages, like I just read a scene or two from the Wolf of Wall street. Not because it's similar (I never read the Wolf of Wall street), but because that's what it reminds me of (the film). Just a bunch of men discussing business, doing (il)legal things and calling each other names, probably a lot of yelling. It's confusing and difficult to understand. Especially because there probably is a lot of things going on in terms of body language and intonation. They continuously call the other characters to attention, which is weird if you're just reading it rather than seeing the play. Therefore I recommend watching the film rather than reading the play book, because that way you will probably get a better idea of what the writers are trying to tell you. 

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