Why do literary novels that win "prestigious" awards have to be so blasted dry, dull and depressing? My solitary book club member only comes to meetings when we read the books she wants to be read...and she only wants to read the novels that win BIG literary awards because "you are forced to think and change your perspective."
We have read two of them so far. One of them made me wonder if it wasn't the author's suicide note in disguise. It had it all: not a single likeable character. A protagonist who should have been beaten to a pulp on page two. Dogs, both gentle and feral, that will soon suffer the same fates as Savage Sam and Old Yeller. The message that every bad thing that happens is because of Western European civilization. And a plot that was one-darned-thing-after-another. The writing was gorgeous, but it didn't make up for a plot that, far from making me think instead caused me to wonder if maybe the culture in question was better off when the bad guys where in control. What goes around comes around to the wrong people is not an inspiring message.
Now we are reading the latest award winner. I don't want to step on literary toes, but the book is 890 pages and while, once again, the writing is lovely, it reminds me of my grandfather telling a story that would go thusly: "So Mac and Ed--you know Ed, his wife was Elsa who broke her leg during the big flood of 1938...that was when the church floated off and wound up down in Town B where the mass murder took place when......" and pretty soon, you are miles away from Mac and Ed and don't remember--or care--who they are when you get back to them.
The writing has been compared to Dickens and other Victorian contemporaries. However, when Dickens told a story, he didn't feel the need to flatten all the characters under his vocabulary or expect his audience to make enlightened observations between his events and the astrological events going on at the time. I can't make heads or tails of it, who is someone to trust, who isn't and, quite honestly, don't get what any of this plot over here has to do with that plot over there.
I'd rather watch "Koyanisquaatsi" and I HATED that flick with every fiber of my soul.
Next month we are reading Little Women. It didn't win any awards that I know of, but several people said they would like to come to the club if we read more approachable fiction and all of them mentioned Alcott.