7.31.2011

Dragging My Feet through Snow



I should have seen it coming.  What could possibly derail a person more than a snowstorm in the middle of July?  I haven't posted in ages, and it is not because I've been so busy or dealing with the damage from the tree on our house or finishing a renovation that has taken 2 years or getting ready to go back-to-school-and-work.  It is because of Orhan Pamuk and his Snow.  I'm actually still not finished, but as this is the last day of July, and Snow was The Wolves pick for July, I thought I should post something now.  In the next day or so, when I finish this slogfest, I will do the official TPR post and offer some concluding thoughts.  But for today, here's what I can say about this book: it is exactly like trying to walk in knee-deep snow.  That is to say, not a quick stroll in the park.

I began this book with great anticipation, partially because my TPR Challenge has been so consistently enjoyable and partially because of the quote on the cover from Margaret Atwood:
Not only an engrossing feat of tale-spinning, but essential reading for our times.  [Pamuk is] narrating his country into being.
That blows my mind: narrating his country into being.  It is either beautiful praise or deeply offensive.  I mean, I'm going to assume Pamuk feels his country is already sufficiently "being."  Either way, it asserts a rather relentless pressure upon the novel, and for this reader, the novel isn't fully measuring up.

The story begins with poet Ka arriving by bus in the already blizzard-like town of Kars in Turkey.  He is there ostensibly to research a recent spate of suicides among girls who have been denied access to education because they choose to be "covered" or wear a religious head-scarf.  Over the next several hundred pages, we tag along as Ka meets and talks to numerous people, explores his own and the city's religious conflicts, pursues a passionate romantic relationship with a woman he knew years ago, and walks and walks and walks through the snow.  He also writes several poems and spends a substantial amount of time just looking at the snow and making various observations about the snow.

Though the story thus far has been fairly interesting and has informed me about several areas of global conflict, I feel like I have been trapped in this unending snowstorm along with the citizens of Kars.  To compound that feeling, the pacing of the plot is extremely slow.  Several times now, I have been shocked when Ka makes reference to something that happened yesterday when I feel it was probably over a week ago.  This stunning series of events has apparently been taking place in under 2 days, and I am having a great deal of trouble making that be true in my mind.

I still have about 150 pages to go, so I am going to withhold full judgment until the whole story has been told.  But what about you Wolves?  Have you been happy to escape from the heat of July to icy Kars?  Or are you slogging through it, chipping away, and wishing for beach umbrellas and bicycles instead?

4 comments:

  1. I have a confession to make. I was not enjoying this book. Abandoned it halfway through. Please don't be mad. Surely one of us Wolves will pull through. Best of luck on the pile of life's challenges! :) Sounds like you have a lot going on.

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  2. Interesting book...I hope you find the time to finish it soon.

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  3. I just finished this today and am in complete agreement with your criticism re: the pacing. CRAZY slow, and I consider myself a pretty patient reader.

    Several times now, I have been shocked when Ka makes reference to something that happened yesterday when I feel it was probably over a week ago.

    Ha, so true!

    There was so much potential here, too, which made me that much more disappointed that the execution left something to be desired.

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  4. Alas, it was I who chose this book for the Wolves. I had much the same reaction as everyone else but felt wholly obligated to finish it since the whole thing was my fault in the first place.

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