Two Books I Probably Won’t Read

I’m suffering from insomnia at the moment, so I just finished reading a couple of good articles online. One is in the NY Times and suggests that the growth in popularity of e-books is going to be for bookstores what the meteorite was for the dinosaurs. It got me thinking…without bookstores, readers won’t be able to browse around the store’s shelves to find books. They will rely more heavily on the reviews of professional readers, such as…hmm, let me see, oh, hello! Can I be of assistance?

The other article was in the Guardian. It discussed the novel Room by Emma Donoghue, which has been long-listed for the Man Booker prize. Evidently the book is about a five year old boy and his mother who are held captive in a room–for years. There is a man who comes in the dark to bring necessities–and to take his own–but that’s the only contact, save for the television, that the mother and son have with the outside world.

I read about this book when the long list was announced, and thought yuck, I don’t want to read that. However, this article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/13/emma-donoghue-room-josef-fritzl

makes it sound very interesting and rather worthwhile. Donoghue certainly is articulate when discussing her novel. She defends herself from the accusation that she is sensationalizing and exploiting the true-life horror story of Franz Fritzl, the Austrian who kept his daughter in a room for decades and fathered seven children by her. You’ve heard about him, right?

This book may have been “triggered” (Donoghue’s word) by that incident, but it is not about that. The author discusses how it is about the parent/ child relationship and the love that can withstand, and transcend, the ordinary–and the strange. She says, “Really, everything in Room is just a defamiliarisation of ordinary parenthood…The idea was to focus on the primal drama of parenthood: the way from moment to moment you swing from comforter to tormentor, just as kids simultaneously light up our lives and drive us nuts. I was trying to capture that strange, bipolar quality of parenthood. For all that being a parent is normal statistically, it’s not normal psychologically. It produces some of the most extreme emotions you’ll ever have.” She goes on to say ” I wanted to focus on how a woman could create normal love in a box.”

The author of the Guardian article, Sarah Crown, goes on to contrast Room with another novel that won the Orange Prize and that was “sparked” (Crown’s word) by another real life tragedy–the Columbine shootings–We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Crown points out that in Shriver’s novel “a mother and her son create hell in the heart of a middle-class idyll,” while in Room, “Ma and Jack conjure humdrum beauty out of a kind of hell.”

Hmm, although I know both these novels have received high praise from critics and the lay reader alike, I just don’t think I want to spend my limited time with them. What about you? Have you read these books? Do you want to?

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