Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project

I'm afraid my little reading project is not working out exactly as I'd hoped. I wanted to push myself to read more, to catch up on some of the books people have recommended, but I've gotten hung up on this one, which took much longer than I'd expected. I think I saw Hemon read once at Prairie Lights, and I must have enjoyed it quite a lot because I was inspired to buy whatever of his I could find. True to form, though, those books have remained unread on the unread-books shelf in my living room, and it wasn't until The Lazarus Project that I managed to motivate myself to finally read something he'd written. And I'm not sorry that I did, exactly--his writing is terrific, and there are some really vivid moments (and good jokes), but ultimately I'm starting to wonder if I'm just in too critical a frame of mind to enjoy anything right now, because I just couldn't get into this one. The premise is that a Bosnian expat in America decides to write a book about a murdered Jewish immigrant in early 20th century Chicago and travels back to Sarajevo for research. The present-day story is written in the past tense, with references back to the murder storyline written in the present tense, and presumably there are all sorts of connections between the two storylines that I couldn't begin to fathom. I'm hoping one of you might have read and liked it and can fill me in on what I'm so obviously missing.

Also reading and not particularly enjoying: Penelope Lively's The Blue Flower, given to me by the same friend who introduced me to Perdido Street Station and Little, Big, both excellent, so perhaps I can be forgiven not understanding the hype over this one, though it could just be my general distaste for historical fiction; Zoe Heller's The Believers, filled with some intensely unlikeable characters, something that somehow worked in The Corrections but doesn't fly all that well otherwise (though, to be fair, I did like What Was She Thinking? (Notes on a Scandal), even though the narrator in that one was clearly batshit crazy).

Next up: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which has been so universally praised that I'm hoping it will jar me out of this streak of negativity. Onward!

1 comment:

cfp said...

Wao is really good but I could see it disappointing extremely high expectations. So tamp those down!