Monday, October 26, 2009

Yes Boss, right away Boss, just let me read these two other books Boss and...

If you're going to take literature far too seriously be sure to select a boss with great taste in fiction.

My boss, or program coordinator if we're really getting hung up on titles, Marjatta (pronounced Mar-ee-ata; she's from Finland originally), who has read book shelves more than me, from a far wider selection of countries, and who can read fluently in at least two languages, gets it with Jhumpa Lahiri (I won't say it); and now, as per my recommendation, she's become a Murakami fan.

Because she reads so widely and well, Marjatta has convinced me to tackle Salman Rushdie's supposed masterpiece, "Midnight's Children," a book so Booker worthy it was awarded the Booker of Bookers (best Booker winner of the award's first 25 years).

I'm not familiar with a great many Finnish-Canadians, but this Finnish-Canadian, who happens to be one of the University of Toronto's truly expert grammarians of English (she teaches a course on the subject), is a patient one too; or, at least, she is a patient reader. She warned me I'd have to wait till page 250 (of 645) - that the book was a rather incomprehensible drag for her until then. But that if I could stick out through those 249 pages, that it would all be worth it after that.

Well, Marjatta, this Jewish, Edinburgh-born to South African parents Canadian is 220 pages in and hurting. He's hurting in that 'I think I'm just not smart enough to get this' sort of way. So much so he's put down the Rushdie for a while and picked up not one but two other works of fiction in the meantime (Stephen King's "Duma Key" and Paul Bowles' "The Sheltering Sky").

Still, Big M (I dare, I dare - she reads this blog), because of you I will return to "Midnight's Children" and slog through another 30 pages. But if a magic carpet doesn't transport me elsewhere by then I'm filing a grievance.

You've been warned.

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