|Blues and pinks
||[Jun. 25., 2019|03:04 pm]
Last night I finished Alentejo blue just to be done with it. Why do I waste so much time with second-rate books? Well, because first-rate literature is generally more challenging. I made a stab at Artemio Cruz on the shuttle home but it was dense with description and I wasn't up to it. When I got home, I had the porch to myself and a stunning view of thunderheads over the lake catching the full evening sun and it was good to have a book I could interrupt at any moment to take in another cloud vista.
It had some decent parts but she really wrecked it with her characterisation of one of the Portuguese characters. Apparently a whole chapter about the morbidly obese guy trying to decide whether or not to eat a piece of cake wasn't enough to show how obsessed fat people are with food so she had to make it the leitmotiv of her description of the local festival, where all her various narrative threads come together in one room. It felt contrived and, at the same time, unsatisfying, so I'm not sure why she bothered.
In any case, I've moved on to a book I just learned existed, 邱妙津/Qiu Miaojin's《鱷魚手記》(Notes of a crocodile in Bonnie Huie's English translation). Apparently it was a groundbreaking work in Qiu's native Taiwan, even furnishing a slang word for "lesbian" based on the protagonist's name. All the agonised talk of "sin" and shame is familiar to me from similar works, but the style is a real departure. I can see why it made such a splash in 1994 when it was published; just a little earlier and it probably would've ended up on one of my college syllabi.