Sunday, August 22, 2010

Themed Reading Wrap-Up

It didn't take me long to finish this challenge, but it took a long time to get all the reviews written. I'd rather be reading than blogging. Obviously.

But now it's completed and I can reflect that I've enjoyed reading the pairs of books linked by epigrams. I can't say there were any revelations there, just plenty of contrast.

Hollinghurst's use of images and echoes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was very elegantly done. The quality of unreality borrowed from Alice served Line of Beauty very well.

McCann's references to The Lazarus Project was more direct, perhaps, and while an interesting connection, I can't say it was a central motif in Let the Great World Spin. The book may have inspired him to tell the story, but I didn't find much of its influence in the novel itself.

Finally, The Namesake was rather tedious in its constant reference to Gogol's story "The Overcoat." My advice to Lahiri would be (putting it perhaps too bluntly) to spend less time waving the flag of connection in front of the reader and more time weaving it into the story for the reader to discover on his/her own.

This challenge was a lot of fun and encouraged me to explore some books I might never have read otherwise. This is my second year of Themed Reading, and I hope to be back next year, too. Thanks, Caribousmom, for hosting!


  1. I am interested in your response to Lahiri's Namesake. I haven't read it, though I saw the movie and enjoyed it. I'm trying to finish Gogol's Dead Souls. I love it, but alas, I am not much of a novel reader.

  2. Ruth, I enjoyed Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies very much (though short stories are not my favorite form), but this book just didn't do it for me. I almost feel the author was overmatched by trying to tell a novel's worth of story; it would be a better work if it was substantially shorter.

    I'm not sure I could stand a whole novel of Gogol, either. Small doses were just right.


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