The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Guest Blog: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

This was my first taste of Zadie Smith and I quite enjoyed it. Basically, it's a slice of life in the ethnic stew that is modern big-city America, although the main characters are transposed Londoners. But the main protagonists are well-heeled academics whose spoiled offspring only encounter the "street" as an exotic experience that impinges around the periphery of the story. There are a few underprivileged immigrant characters, but they are minor. The main action takes place in the bitchy committee rooms of British/American academe made over-familiar by the Amises and Albees where the men are pompous asses and the women scheming bitches. The main variation on this stock theme are two middle-aged black women, one a Caribbean earth-mother who awakes some vestigial remanants of soul in Kiki, the over-educated wife of her husband's nemesis. The moving relationship that develops between these two is one of the book's successes. The more central struggle of the leading couple to repair their affair-shattered marriage doesn't come off quite so well. The best part for me was the constant chafing between Kiki's three half-caste college-age children, the stand-offish Jerome, the ambitious but under-endowed Zora and the young trickster Levi, who wishes nothing so much as to be accepted as a bro by Haitian street people. All in all a spirited romp. It wasn't as edgily multicultural as the hype led me to expect, being mainly from the viewpoint of privileged upper-middleclass families some of whom just happened to have coloured skin, and mostly set among the oft-satirized groves of academe. And it has some amusing moments, the best of them involving young Levi, but I don't know that it deserves the "comic novel" label. There are some chuckles but no out-loud laughs.



Post a Comment

<< Home