Saturday, 21 June 2008

I failed at book club





I went to the reasonable expense and not insignificant trouble of reading all of Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book for the book club I was supposed to be joining, and then I forgot to turn up. The book club was on and I was in the cinema at Greensborough Plaza (which still hasn't gotten itself busy with my instructions for fixing it up) watching You Don't Mess With The Zohan which was exactly what you would expect. In absolute honesty I liked the movie and the book about equally as much. They were both a sort of Komedy Kosher exercise in catering to the implied audience's desire to be painlessly entertained whilst specifically having the feeling of caring a small amount about the odd problems overwrought Jews and Arabs have with each other. And why did both novel and film have a key character who was allegedly, yet hilariously unconvincingly, Australian? TPOTB I thought had some severe issues. Because of the structure it had the appearance of being predictable, which makes the reader bored. But then it did have some genuine surprises in the last pages after all, so all the bored feelings were nothing but an exercise in wastefulness and futility. I could admire it in a 'sociology of literary publishing' sort of spirit all right, though. If you were to set out to write a book-club-bait novel, based on the strategic recombining of elements of The Da Vinci Code with Possession, with a good dash of sentimentality about heroic types who save books from destruction, then writing this would be a pretty good result. It's probably for the best that I forgot to go to the meeting really.

You Don't Mess With The Zohan had a running joke about hummus in it which seemed to imply that Americans don't regard it as a food which anyone except Israelis eat, that was confusing but it certainly fits with what I had already concluded about American food.

11 comments:

lucy tartan said...

bazlotto! hurrah me etc.

Jonathan said...

No Americans think that. They might associate hummus with the Middle East, but not just with Israelis.

M-H said...

I thought that the major problem with TPOTB was the main character, whom I didn't find very believable. Or her mother. Maybe that speaks to my ignorance of female surgeons. I found the historical parts pulled me in much more. However, I thought she did get one of the contemporary details bang on: the main character, being a Sydney-sider, goes to Germany in the middle of winter and thinks that her leather jacket will keep her warm.

Ampersand Duck said...

I seem to remember you having issss-hues with Brooks' writing in the past... I haven't read it yet, because I'm waiting for it to turn up at the Lifeline Book Fair after all the book clubs have chewed it up and spat it out.

Miss Schlegel said...

Gosh. A mediocre Geraldine Brookes novel. Who'd've thunk it?*


*View based entirely on reading nothing but Year of Wonders, which I considered melodramatic bilge.

lucy tartan said...

Thanks for clarification, Jonathan. The joke is even less understandable now.

M-H, granted on the leather jacket point, but everything else about that girl was truly unswallowable. She says things like "I had another suck on my tinnie" and her education and career is worthy of Dan Brown's powers of invention.

Duck and Miss S - yes, I had a small rant about Year of Wonders once here, a long time ago. A bad book. I keep hearing that March is all right. Got my doubts.

Suse said...

'March' is mindnumbing in its tedium. I know only one person who's managed to finish it.

At least 'Year of Wonders' is finishable.

Not ONE Baz pic in today's offerings.

Bernice said...

Arrhhh but alas in finishing Year of Wonders, one is subjected to the final chapter. Not a happy place. And so too must Bernice admit she aint read TPOTB either - there are some things in life one should choose to avoid.

Suse said...

I agree Bernice. The last chapter of YoW was, um, out of keeping? Dodgy? Unbelievable at any rate.

Prior to that, I'd been enjoying it and it kept me turning the pages, unlike March.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Speaking of hummus, there used to be some ripper graffiti in Newtown. Someone had graffed "God hates homos", to which someone else had added, "but he loves tabouli".

Martin Kingsley said...

Best. Graffito. Ever.