Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Does This Mean I'm Not Very Smart?

Finally, I finished Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz. It has taken me almost all of April. I can't explain why I feel less than happy about this book, nor can I explain why it took me almost four weeks to read. The language is not difficult, nor are the concepts. I did not like the characters, nor did I understand their motivations or their principles. I felt like much of the book revolved around placating the dictatorial father who lived his life making mountains out of molehills. I do realize that I often won't like a new book or a new song until I have read or heard it enough to become more familiar with it. This book is certainly unfamiliar to me; I don't relate to the people, place, time, beliefs... at all. I usually like to find some beauty or some inspiration in what I read, and I did not find that in Palace Walk. I can see why the book is considered a classic. Mahfouz certainly paints a picture of a place, time, and culture. It just happens to be a culture I don't understand or agree with. Mahfouz not only seems sympathetic to the misogyny found in the male characters, he seems almost to celebrate it as something worth trying to recapture in society. To love a work of art, a book, a piece of music, I need some feeling of goodness and hope to come out of what I see, read, or hear. This book did not inspire even a hint of goodness or hope in me. It did make me thankful for the time and place in which I live.

3 comments:

Paul (just Plain Paul) said...

I've read one book in the last 12 months... I've started about 6!! Does that make me dumb or just ADD???

Amy said...

This sounds like a comman problem in our house. Stacks of books lying around started and not finished. Here's my advice, especially if your reading time is limited: if you don't like it after two or three sittings, quit. Put it away, and try something else. Life is short; read fun!

Amy said...

BTW -- love the posting name! You can't remember that from the funeral???