Thursday, June 11, 2015

New reads:

Sorry for the radio silence lately, guys. I've just gotten into a really bad habit of being lazy. That ends now (hopefully -- habits are hard to break, you know).

I'm done begging apologies -- onto some books!

This week I'm reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Have you read it? What did you think? Almost everyone I know who has read it either really loved it or really hated it. There seems to be no middle ground here.

Here's what it's about, in case you're interested:

"We are in an elegant hotel particulier in the center of Paris. Renee, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood. But Renee has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the building's tenants -- her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.

Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startlingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renee hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a new tenant arrives, a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu. He befriends Paloma and is able to see through Renee's timeworn disguise to the mysterious event that has haunted her since childhood. This is a moving, witty, and redemptive novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us."

Here's the honest truth. I am one of those rare people who is in the gray on this one. I haven't finished it yet. But I am struggling with it. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten very far. Maybe it's because something got lost in translation from the native French. Regardless, I'm having a hard time with it. I will finish it because that's what I do but I'm not sure how I feel just yet. It could go either way at this point.

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