26 March 2012

One-Star Revue: THE MARRIAGE PLOT (was robbed!)

The Tournament of Books has not been going the way that I would like it to go. OPEN CITY's upset of THE MARRIAGE PLOT is a travesty and I can only see it as a rebellion against an accepted master to anoint a self-consciously "edgy" book featuring an "outsider" protagonist who is at his best when recording impressions outside himself because he has no apparent human feelings. Its difference works against it in the moment where the protagonist stops acting like a human and the novel essentially lets him get away with a crime, focusing instead on the thoughts that precede from him whose coldness is shocking. In that moment Julius is revealed to be a symbol instead of a man, and it feels like a betrayal.

Perhaps judge Alex Abramovich, who called THE MARRIAGE PLOT "grade-grubbing" and said it "does the work of making you feel smart, without having to have worked for it," might agree with some of these other people:

  • "If you are completely cerebral and angst-ridden and enjoy reading about others just like you, then this book is for you!" Okay, this one made me laugh. 
  • "I was annoyed that Eugenides throws in lots of literary references."
  • "There is not a single character that would not benefit by getting an actual life."
  • "Eugenides' desperation for 'intellectual' or 'creative' metaphors and similes seeps through the pages like a fat nerd boy sweating out his nervousness onto his World of Warcraft T-shirt while standing around thinking of how to impress a girl." 
  • "Perhaps, holding the book and feeling the pages might expunge my first impression--but I doubt it." What?
  • "I found the characters unheroic."
  • "The ending of the book was pretty cliche and made me feel that I have just run a fun circle of marathon and am still standing at the exact same spot." 
  • "When my book club chose this, I wasn't thrilled."
  • "Before I begin, let me clarify that I am a Doctoral student in Comparative Literature." Sorry, no resumes on Amazon please.


jess s said...

I was so disappointed by that decision! What did you think of today's?

Ellen said...

It's hard for me to judge its fitness without having read 1Q84... but I think they did a disservice to it by assigning someone who by her own admission had never read a Murakami novel before. Maybe that was on purpose? Maybe it wasn't. I didn't believe that she loved LIGHTNING RODS either, though, just dwelt less time on its imperfections.

jess s said...

I get the feeling that most people didn't like 1Q84 much. If it was 300 pages shorter, it would have been better. But, it's not 300 pages shorter. I didn't like lightning rods much. I am shocked to see it go so far. For whatever shortcomings that judge had, the second-to-last paragraph about female sexuality was one of the best paragraphs in a TOB judgement.

If sisters brothers doesn't win tomorrow, I might give up on TOB though. Seriously.