Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Post-Birthday World

Not recommending this book is probably harsher than it deserves, but since I spent a month and a half complaining to anyone and everyone about the damn snooker book, I might as well complain here too. Lionel Shriver’s last book, We Need to Talk About Kevin, was a previous recommendation of mine. I was ecstatic to find a half-price review copy of her new book at the Strand on my trip to New York. The book had just came out and I was intrigued by the premise—alternating chapters describe the course of events in Irina’s life depending on whether she decides to kiss Ramsey, an acquaintance, or whether she resists temptation and stays with her long time boyfriend, Lawrence. One version seems to lead to an impulsive, tempestuous roller coaster of a life with Ramsey; the other path seems to promise a quiet, steadfast contentment with Lawrence. It was hard for me to buy in because I did not get the appeal of Ramsey at all, and Lawrence was not much better. Frankly, I was hoping for a third option where she dumps both. Irina is a children’s book editor and Lawrence works for a foreign policy think tank, both professions that I would be interested to hear more about. Ramsey, however, is a professional snooker player (the closest American approximation is pool). In the book, we hear very little about Irina or Lawrence’s careers, but we get lots of detailed snooker tournaments. And biographies of snooker players. And even snooker songs. I feel like I read an entire book on the history of snooker and I still don’t know exactly what it is, and I DON'T CARE. On the positive side, I think we all have moments that we look back on and think our life may be drastically different or happier if we had only said or did something different in that one moment. I really like Shriver’s approach to that moment and her answer to that fantasy. There was also a lot of beautiful writing and I read the last 100 pages or so glued to my chair with the suspense of Irina’s decision. Too bad I had to sit through 5000 snooker matches to get there.

4 comments:

Shuttsie said...

Ang, Do you feel like you've been snookered by this book?

angstrat said...

I don't want to discourage you from giving it a try--it does have some good things going for it but it didn't live up to my expectations. I found both relationships to be troubling but I liked how nothing is "happy ever after". Oh the snooker rant was funnier over martinis at book club--snooker is now a code word for the three of us there.

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