Tuesday, March 2, 2010

52 books in 52 weeks: Book 2: The Museum of Innocence

How do you choose books? I remember in the early days of e-mail, before online was even a real word, e-mailing a professor who had taught me Canadian Literature in university, asking him for any book recommendation he could suggest. I was sick of just standing in the aisle of the bookstore choosing a book roulette style. I was desperate for new books. He never e-mailed me back. That was the world before the real online world we know now.

Now, I have a running Wish List on the Chapters/Indigo website that allows me to simply save the book in an Online List that I can add to and shop from when the time comes. I seem to like the Hunter/Gatherer approach. I graze and take note of new up-and-coming authors mentioned online, I read reviews, look for classics that are completely foreign to me, watch Award Lists and read my favorite authors' newest works when they come out. What are you reading? is a favourite question of mine. I have also been known to attack fellow book-shoppers with a few questions about what they are holding, twisting to see the authors and titles in their arms. I am That Girl. don't hate me.

So, for book #2, I will start out by mentioning that I have no idea how or when this book was added to my Online List. When I shared said List with my family before the holidays, I simply sent them the link and said go nuts. Orhan Pamuk's epic love story The Museum of Innocence must have been on there, because it lovingly appeared under the tree. As I researched a bit I noticed it is a past Pulizer Prize winner, so that might be why I added it to the List. Who Knows. Regardless. It doesn't matter. I read it.

Let's start out with a nice little summary from the publisher:

A sweeping, emotionally charged novel of the nature of romantic attachment and the strange allure of collecting — this is Orhan Pamuk’s greatest achievement.

It is Istanbul in 1975. Kemal is a rich and engaged man when he by chance encounters a long-lost relation, Fusun, a young shop girl whose beauty stirs all the passion denied him in a society where sex outside marriage is taboo.

Fusun ends their liaison when she learns of Kemal’s engagement. But Kemal cannot forget her: for nine years he tries to change her mind, meanwhile stealing from her an odd assortment of personal items, which he collects and cherishes — a “museum of innocence” that he puts on display to tell the heartbreaking story of a love that shaped a life.

What to say about this book. Hmmm. This one is tough for some reason. It was a honker of a book with over 500 pages. It is a love story. A long one that spans many many years. I found the detailed imagery captivating, and the main characters exceptionally well developed. But, at parts, I actually put the book down mid-sentence multiple times and said out loud it's been (enter any number over three ie.) EIGHT frickin YEARS. It was a love hate relationship. You know, that kind of book. I guess that was what made it so great, the detail, the painful drawn out detail is what adds texture and bite to what can be deemed a common story line: lost love. The museum component itself is worth reading this for. Orhan's work brought back memories of my favourite Canadian movie, Margaret's Museum. The art historian in me loved both. So I did enjoy it, the love story, the painfulness that narrates the story. But at times I wished it wasn't so detailed.

I want to visit Turkey now? Does that count as an observation? I fell in love through description. Pamuk's descriptions of the apartments, their views, the smells and textures of the streets, the colours and climate, really awoke a travelbug in me. A friend of mine who travelled through Europe after university said his next trip back was to Turkey, he had visited for a few days on his first voyage and was spellbound. I remember the look in his eye, the smile sweeping over his entire face and his head shaking in an attempt to describe his few days there. Amazing might have been the only word he could conjure. I remembered that as I read this book. I want to travel to Turkey now. So I guess that does count. Overall a recommendation, I would say, is warranted.

So that's 2 down! Stand by for number 3.


again, I am always looking for recommendations & if you have read this book - tell me what you thought!


Evangeline said...

Yeah, isn't the internet the best for figuring out what to read? It seems I am constantly adding to my book list.
Back in the day I used to get my reading rec.s from newspaper reviews, and kept a running list of books that had been referenced in movies, other books etc. (hated when I didn't get a book-related pop culture reference!). But what I really loved were those lists in the back of the Penguin books! "Penguin's classics" & "Penguin's Modern Classics" I chose many, many books from there.

And let's see, I just finished "The Book of Negroes" and found it quite interesting in a gut wrenching sort of way. Well worth a read.

leel said...

hey e! I forgot about those lists at the back. I remember those! And the book order forms from school? I loved those things :) True book geeks ftw! And I will put that book on my list. I think the title was putting me off, but I will give it a go. Thanks E!


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