Tuesday, March 14, 2006

So Help Me God: A Review of "The Kite Runner"

One hand on the Bible and one hand on my heart, I swear this solemn vow.

If I ever write a novel in which a first-person narrator has life experiences similar to my own, including marrying someone with a name similar to my spouse, I WILL NOT make that first-person narrator an enormously gifted writer. Particularly if my own writing is not that great.

Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" commits this cardinal sin over and over. The narrator's father tells him to "go and read one of those books of yours." (Even as a child, he is such a reader!) His mentor gives him a leather notebook for his stories and urges him to use his godgiven gift (and whispers "Bravo"). His wife-to-be is discovered reading one of his stories: she looks up and says "you never told me you could write like this". Hushed awe from the crowd, please.

It's just so crap. I've never rolled my eyes so often in a novel - Hosseini has a compelling story about Afghanistan to relate, but he tells it mind-numbingly badly. While telling us how brilliant he is. I have to discuss this book in a social book club next month - and it was enthusiastically recommended by a friend of mine. In other words, I'm going to have to play nice. Thank god for the ranting spaces of the internet.

6 Comments:

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Welcome to the gang, Beth.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Thanks Tim. It took me a while to build up steam, but now it's coming out of my ears.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger JPW said...

The best book about a writer is probably Fante's Ask The Dust (tied with Hamsun's Hunger, I guess), followed by whatever you please by Bukowski.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure I trust your measured opinion, Beth. After all, this book is a NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! Furthermore, RON FRANSCELL, AUTHOR OF ANGEL FIRE and Amazon TOP 1000 REVIEWER gives it five stars and tells us that "YOUR HEART WILL SOAR" while reading The Kite Runner. P. ROBICHAUD, Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER gives it another five stars and tells us that it is a marvelous book "THAT OPENS UP OUR HEARTS AND MINDS". If you can't trust people who spend all their days reviewing unreadable books on Amazon, then who CAN you trust?

I jest, of course. Hosseini sounds like a right wally. Finally, another book I can safely walk past next time I go shopping. The pile diminishes!

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger TimT said...

Welcome to the gang, Beth.

I second that one, boss! We'll have ever-so-much fun, feasting on popsicles and soda! And afterwards, we can all saunter out and catch some smugglers just when they're hiding the loot!

 
At 5:23 AM, Anonymous martha said...

My book club read The Kite Runner too (like every other book club that ever was), and I have to say, I had to hold my nose to finish it too. And felt guilty all the while, because Afghanistan is not a place I know a whole lot about, and how many stories out there actually tell about it from an Afghani perspective? But I know there must be some good writers in the country, and alas, this guy was not one of them. It was a first novel; maybe he'll do better next time.

 
At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently listening the book from the CD while I am commuting between work and home. As Beth posted above, I never rolled my eyes so many times reading/listening a novel and I am only on the third CD. I understand that this is his first, but so much bulls**t. I can't understand his obsession with the pomegranate tress so that he becomes fictious. Pomegranates become ripe towards the end of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere not in spring. He smashed Hassan with ripe fruits in Spring which is just not right. Please somebody from Afganisthan clear this up. Also, pomagranate trees have sharp prickly trunk, branches and suckers, so it is not like an oak tree that you choose to climb and sit on the branches.

 

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