A Book Club staple
Open City by Teju Cole scored about a 5.75. However, that rating may not be entirely accurate. If this novel were a stock on NASDAQ we're refer to it as "thinly traded," and may question whether the reported price truly reflects the value of the company. Let's call this book "thinly read." To be specific: only 2 of 9 BC members got up the gumption to make it to the end, and only 3 of 9 felt that they had read enough to proffer a rating. Wow! End of summer should have been the perfect time to leisurely read (and complete) an acclaimed novel. What gives? In a nutshell, this book was too just damn slow. Although beautifully written, it meandered all over the place, stopping to muse over such disparate topics as the attack on the World Trade Center, immigration, mental illness, the collapse of "old economy" stalwarts like Tower Records, race relations, bedbugs and global warming. As the Doctor said, "The story really doesn't get going until page 50 when Julius ambles over to 143rd street and has a revelation about a flock of pigeons." That email was more or less the death knell for those who already were skeptical about the esoteric ramblings of this book. To be fair, while Julius' ruminations were insightful and poignant, he, as a character, was too academic and removed for readers to connect with. This book's strong suit was being a calm and relaxing read if you had no places to go and no people to see, with all the time in the world to just give in to its gentle discussions. And for anyone who lived in New York, it looks out upon the city through a particular lens, then lens of a black (but lighter-skinned due to being mixed Nigerian and German), single male professional, who is acutely aware of the legacy that race and politics have left on the City's history. You truly get a sense that although the City hasn't always been "open" to everyone in terms of opportunity, it is "open" to exploration and experience and will reveal much to someone like Julius who makes an effort to learn its secrets.
Our next regularly-scheduled meeting is Wednesday, October 3. Host TBD. The October and November books are, in order, Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, and Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. Until next time, read early and often! xoej
Slick Willie: B.C. B.C.
Circa The Hours--young and vital