Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Zadie Smith

On Beauty is a darn good read. Yes, her homage to Forster is clear, yet subtle. Yes, her characters are engaging and varied. The book is thick (I read the hardback from the library, 443 pages) and it is the kind of thick book that is reassuring, in that I looked forward to a chance to read more, felt safe within its covers, did not want it to end.

No. On Beauty is not perfect. Yes. It is a marvellous literary work. I haven't enjoyed a novel so much since I read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, or Julia Glass's Three Junes. It was a pleasure to find myself in the world of an author with so much authority, humor, and verve. I applaud Z. Smith's decision to use the omniscent third person POV.

So what is my quibble? Smith is thirty-ish. Her younger characters are believable, but her seriously middle-aged characters are not quite right. She has never been fifty-seven, and this shows. The middle-aged crisis is that of a thirty-something projected forward, not what someone in the middle of their life really feels. This is not going to be a problem for readers who are in their thirties or forties, or for reviewers in that group, but it will be for those of us who have crossed the fifties divide. Do I still recommend this book for the AARP crowd? You betcha. Run right out and get it. Pick up those feet! Honey, we're not quite dead, not yet.

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2 Comments:

At 6:40 AM, Blogger katrina said...

Great comments, Linera. I haven't read it yet but am looking forward to it.

 
At 12:11 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I had exactly the same reaction, Linera. :)

 

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