Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fast Read

Just like my favorite kind of food is anything slow-cooked , I like my fiction to unfold languidly. To that end, Zhu Wen's I Love Dollars is not my kind of book, which is a pity because it is a very good one. In the title story "I Love Dollars" the protagonist in reaction to his father asking him to give up writing, says:

"I knew full well my tears were cheap, as were my emotions. I was a cheap person, in an age that burned to sell cheap, my natural habitat the clearance warehouse, pushed carelessly to one end of an empty shelf, happy to write for anyone who tossed me a couple of coins. I was ready and waiting: I'd even put my soul on special, on 70, 80 percent discount. But don't forget: I want to be paid in dollars - fucking dollars"

If I was able to adjust to the choppy pace and the general breathlessness about how the stories are told, I would have appreciated it so much more. After all fast food can be both delicious and filling. Some are actually a lot more ingenious that slow cooked fare.

If the first chapter of Salman Rushdie's newest book "The Enchantress of Florence" were any indication, it would be a comfortable pace for me.

The other drank deeply from the gourd. The water ran down from the edges of his mouth and hung on his shaven chin like a liquid beard. At length he handed back the empty gourd, gave a sigh of satisfaction, and wiped the beard away.

Maybe reading is my escape to a pace much slower than that of my own life and I feel cheated if a good story is told too briskly and without the benefit of languid word pictures I can linger over.

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