8.09.2005

ahwosg bookclub pt. 2

Well, we're back from our week's hiatus, and some of you (who know who you are) reminded us that we haven't fulfilled our promise to continue with our reading of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

So the book club invites you to rejoin us in chapter 6 of A Heartbreaking Work.

c: the most interesting thing that's happened so far is the main character's interview to be on the Real World. but even that wasn't SO interesting. this character - the interviewer - wasn't very believable from the beginning, so i wasn't too surprised when things get all meta and she starts talking about how she's just a plot device that allows the main character to talk about his history.

s: yeah, it all seemed very unessessary from the get go. it was so clear that eggers created the interviewer to lead him along to include all these character portraits that, i guess, wouldn't have fit anywhere else. when the mask is pulled off and everything get's meta it hits the reader with a *yawn*. why make the motivations of the author so bare? the idea of having the interview i like, but why break it down? it just ends up being a huge disappointment. like the wallet story in chapter... 3? i had NO IDEA that those mexicans hadn't stole is wallet...

c: a lot of the devices are unsurprising... or used unsurprisingly. also, every time i find myself critiquing this book (which i guess is a lot), i stop and think, 'well, maybe that's the point.' i'd like to talk about that. so, he's revealing that his characters are invented by an author with an agenda. so what? i'm not really enjoying this book, because i keep waiting for it to get to THE POINT. Should a book even have a POINT to make? or just be pleasurable to read?

s: maybe that's part of the problem. the whole idea of subjectivity. the whole notion of the book and its characters representing the different motivations, thoughts, opinions of the author is old hat. we know this. maybe not everyone does though? i mean, i'd like to know what made this book so popular in the first place. maybe this view of the novel, literature, isn't common and thus seems (on the whole) new. it reads mostly like an author afraid to sell out in writing something...

c: interesting. i mean, that's a legitimate fear, one that i think every author (and every person who makes choices!) always has. i guess i'm curious about how he's overcome this. i mean, there's no way the fact that he decides to write the book can be the surprise ending! from the minute we start reading, we know he's written it. i feel like the whole plot of the book is going to be his coming to write the book... and right now, at least, i don't find that very exciting.

s: yeah, it seems he's afraid of fakery (isn't this a theme of the book at large) and compensates for it by calling himself on his own fakery, which as a gimmick (at least to me) comes off as the height of fakery. why does the real world interview have to be used... ironically(?) ? there's not really much in the way of a plot here, which might have something to do with its not being very exciting. don't forget though, he apologized for this in the opening, i mean weren't we supposed to have stopped reading by now? ultimately the book seems to be demonstrating that despite any forewarning, the author is ultimately wholely responsible for the work he has created.

c: but i don't feel comfortable holding him responsible for every possible reaction to that work. maybe THIS is the point... that whatever we think about the book, it's what he's chosen to write? that's still a pretty lame reason to use all this tragedy... which also seems to be what he's afraid of. but even if he's apologized for it, and we can thus wonder if that's the point, it still doesn't seem worth it to me.

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