Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Origin of Species by Nino Ricci
I haven't done very many book reviews on here in a very long time. I have been reading, I just have not had much time to post about what I've been reading! I just finished this book and had to do a review because my reaction to the book was so unusual for me. This is a book that is really an existential journey with an Uber intellectual thirty something year old PhD student trying to reconcile his profound belief in the lack of higher meaning to life with his emotional attachment to life and certain people in it. It was a good book. But I hated the main character. It is unusual for me to dislike a main character this deeply and STILL like the book, and continue reading to its conclusion, and feel sympathy for and attachment to that main character. VERY intruiging.
I think it arrogant of Ricci to assume Darwin's title, The Origin of Species (when I mentioned I was reading this book to a biologist friend of mine she was momentarily impressed, until she realized I wasn't talking about Darwin's original). Who does that? Take the title of a great, famous piece of scientific literature and name their unknown, unpublished, as-yet-untested-in-the-public-eye fictional manuscript after it? Arrogant.
But it was GOOD. Read it, and see if you like that main character. I just wanted to slap him and say, "Grow UP already! Take some action! DO SOMETHING!"
AND very interesting because my last book review was on Bel Canto, which I didn't like mainly because all the interesting plot development was mentioned in the past tense as almost a non event. So any suspense or curiosity regarding large or interesting developments of plot are baisically neutralized. THIS BOOK did the same thing. Over and over. And yet, enough of the daily action was described in the present tense to make up for it, or something, because I didn't mind it as much in this book. It drove me wild in Bel Canto--mainly because the entire premise of the book was a huge, scary, life threatening event that didn't get described in a way that did it justice, in my opinion. Plus the opening of the book is described in a way that leads one to believe that the plot IS integral to the story, which it turns out it isn't. This time around the main movement of the plot was more like daily, normal life, so a single, major event was not the central premise of the book. So maybe that was why it wasn't so frustrating to have significant events described in the past tense as almost non events. Or maybe the writing is just better.