Fat Books & Thin Women

30 Day Book Meme, Day 18
August 19, 2011, 5:04 pm
Filed under: 30 Day Book Meme | Tags: , , , , ,

A book that disappointed you:

I never quite made it off my ass long enough to write a review of Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife. This is partly because when I read it I had a pinched nerve and spent all my time laying on the floor feeling sorry for myself, partly because I was getting ready to travel to the States for vacation, partly because I found the book so underwhelming that I couldn’t think of much to say about it. I think the Obreht disappointment has been pretty well-documented by Greg at New Dork Review of Books and Sasha from Sasha & the Silverfish, so I’m not going to get into too much detail here. (Also, I am still too lazy to think up much to write about the novel.)

Like so many novels that are hyped up the wazoo by all five remaining newspaper review sections, Obreht’s novel almost couldn’t help failing simply because it could never be as good as we were promised. The Tiger’s Wife, set in an unnamed country of the former Yugoslavia (it’s Serbia), is overflowing with sometimes gorgeous details and stories. There’s the deathless man and the three times the narrator Natalia’s grandfather meets him, the story of the escaped tiger living in the mountains above her grandfather’s village and the story of the Muslim butcher living in that village and the nearly innumerable ways in which his life has let him down. The story that claims to be the backbone to Obreht’s story, that of Natalia’s attempt to find out why her grandfather disappeared just before his death, is weak, though; if anything, it’s this framing narrative that serves to distract from the otherworldly beauty of Natalia’s grandfather’s stories.

In Natalia’s story Obreht tries to give some motion and energy and purpose to the novel. The problem is that the best parts of the novel are those that have nothing to do with that ragged plotline, and that the novel is never able to feel like something more than a cobbled-together book of family stories and fairy tales. The Tiger’s Wife is promising more for what it suggests Obreht is capable of doing in the future than for what she is capable of doing now.

30 Day Book Meme:
Day 01 – The best book you read last year
Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than three times
Day 03 – Your favorite series
Day 04 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
Day 07 – Most underrated book
Day 08 – Most overrated book
Day 09 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

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1 Comment

Yeah, this one had “over-hyped” written all over it. I picked up a copy but insisted my wife read it first and her comment was that it lost steam about halfway through and by the time she got to the end, she’d lost much of her initial interest.

Too much exposure can have a negative impact on a book and the author in question. Look at the abuse that almost matched the praise for Jonathan Franzen’s latest.

As an author, I think I prefer it when my books slip in “under the radar”, word of mouth and social networks spreading the word, the buzz gradually growing.

After what happened to Franzen, I think I can do without my picture on TIME…

Comment by Cliff Burns

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