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Friday, June 22, 2007

Didion's "The Last Thing He Wanted"

I am not sure why I haven't finished reading this book yet. I should have been done with it a couple of days ago, but I have worked so hard this week, really. I went into work every day this week. I photocopied and worked on my website for what seemed an eternity. By the time I got around to reading, it was time to go to bed. I created a massive amount of pdf files for the course website, and I still have a ton more to go. So, I have been on vacation for two weeks now and it feels like I have done more work than before the semester ended. I also created the three summer reading blogs for my students and have been updating those as well. At any rate, there's nothing I can say here to prove it but I have worked a great deal this week.

Didion's novel is so disjointed. I really don't know what is going on. For a while the protagonist Elena McMahon gets involved on her father's dealings, and even goes on a mission to complete one of his deals. Apparently, he sells arms on the black market. So our correspondent turned mercenary goes to Costa Rica to complete a deal her father started. In the span of time she is gone her father dies and she returns home before the operative who was giving her instructions completes the transaction. The novel is a jigsaw puzzle of point of view narratives. There is a persistent stream of consciousness thing going on that really does not add at all to the narrative, rather it makes the reader confused as to who is thinking or saying what. There's also a repetitive sentence mode that is confusing and sort of annoying. For example: "Many people appear to have walked around the dead center of this period.... Many people appear to have chosen during this period to identify themselves as something other than what they were.... This was a period during which many people appear to have known the way to fly undetected.... This was a period during which many people appear to have known that the way to fly undetected over foreign coastlines was with cash.... This was a period during which a significant minority among the population at large appears to have understood how government funds earmarked for humanitarian aid might be diverted...." This goes on in the span of a single paragraph--can you imagine how annoying this can get after a while? At any rate, commitment to a book is commitment to a book and I must respect the fact that I owe the book my attention and must keep reading it. More to come soon (unless I succumb to work).



At 12:13 PM, Blogger Imani said...

You are far more dedicated than I am. Unless it's something required, once a book annoys me too much, out it goes!


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