Monday, October 4, 2010

Beatrice and Virgil - Yawn Martel

Pretentious Pears, and other inanities

I gave up on Life of Pi 75 pages into reading it, for the same reason I hated this book. The arrogant, pretentious, blather. I've often wondered if I should give Pi another go, but after reading this I know I made the right decision.

This is the message I got from the author:

"I love me, don't you? Hark! I shall now describe a pear."

For 20 minutes (or at least, what felt like 20 minutes, but at least 15 or 20 sentences longer than was necessary or interesting.) We were also treated to such fascinating tidbits as Flaubert Cliff Notes, and the author's practice of reading and responding to his fan mail. Another of his self-love moments. Dull. Dull. Dull. Blah. Blah. Blah. Silence. Blah.

Then we got to the play within the story, (enter the pear). Allegory, Schmallegory. Martel left nothing to the imagination. Heaven forbid the reader interpret anything as they saw it, every little bit of the story was explained. It felt like a lecture.

The human characters in this book were awful. Unlikeable. Maybe that was by design considering the subject matter. But I didn't care what happened to who, and I couldn't wait for them all to just SHUT. UP.

I listened to this on audio, which was 6 hours long. The first 5 hours, I eye-rolled so many times I think I actually improved my vision with the workout I got. However, there was some redemption in the last hour (and it saved this book from a 1-star review.) There were fleeting moments of brilliance and it could have been great if the author didn't seem so bent on impressing everybody with his descriptive power of Pear, and his need to explain every little tidbit to an audience who was apparently unable to figure it out for themselves. I had both affection and sympathy for Beatrice (though most of the sympathy was a result of the fact she had to be in this awful book.)

The only time this book didn't miss the mark for me was "Gustav's Games" at the very end. If the rest of the book had been written with this degree of sensitivity and rawness, it would have blown my socks off.

2 Boscs out of 5


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