Archive for July, 2012

In re: Jeffrey Eugenides

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I read Jeffrey Eugenides book The Virgin Suicides. It’s the only one of his I’ve read that I’ve liked. I didn’t like The Marriage Plot, and I didn’t like Middlesex. My curmudgeonly persona thinks he got the Pulitzer prize for Middlesex because the committee somehow missed The Virgin Suicides the year it came out and tried to make it up by giving him the prize for Middlesex.

G. Willow Wilson, Alif the Unseen

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I just finished a remarkable book called Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson.  I loved it from page one (or whatever passes for that on a Kindle) until things started to bog down about (guesstimating) 50 pages from the end, where I was afraid the author had lost her story and was just going to pontificate, but she managed to get back on track and bring the novel to a satisfying close.

I have recently begun to think that fictional works divide into two non-overlapping (pretty much, anyway) categories: stories of can and stories of can’t.  Stories of can address life affirmatively.  It is not that they are blind in any way to the evils and ugliness that life can present, but in the end they can see reasons to continue living.  Stories of can’t see the same evils and ugliness and can’t bring themselves to anything but despair.

Alif the Unseen is a story of can.  I find such stories so much more satisfying than stories of can’t.