I must begin by admitting that I am usually not a fan of Zadie Smtih's fiction. As a former English major, I know she is an important contemporary writer, and so I continue to recommend her work to friends to whom I think it will appeal. I just simply do not add myself to the list. Perhaps it is the obvious reference to London postcodes (obvious to me now having lived in London for almost a year) that made me pick up her recent book, NW. To my surprise I have yet to put it down, 245 pages in. At first I was was a bit off-put by the I’m-trying-so-hard-to-be-postmodern writing style—jumping between dialogue and inner monologue without warning, sectioning off each character’s point of view with different styles in different sections, strange sub sections of random thoughts (I still haven’t sorted out this number 37 business…). It felt a bit been-there-done-that. But now that I am further in, it seems to suit the book. And I am really enjoying it (albeit a bit because I recognize locations, tube stops, and bus lines). Even for the non-Londoner, I think this book is a good read. The characters have depth; they develop; tragedy strikes, and we the reader actually care. Always a check in the positive column for me.
So even if On Beauty and White Teeth aren’t in your top 10 reads (or even top 50), give this one a shot. I think it’s refreshing and very different from her other books. She seems to be in her element with these characters, these encounters, and this city.
CURRENTLY READING: Jonathan Franzen’s The Discomfort Zone
Almost finished. So far I am an enjoying this collection of personal essays about his childhood. I am not enjoying it as much as his later collection of essays, Farther Away, which I read a months ago. I am looking forward to his other memoir-esque collection of essays, How To Be Alone, which I think is a bit more similar to Farther Away in that is shares his satirical, jaded adult voice—which is what I love. His childhood voice doesn’t quite ring as true with me.
100 Greatest Writers
Gertrude Stein at number 5! A pretty solid list, I’d say.
current reading: Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs
Although I am probably not the target audience for this short essay memoir, I am enjoying the different perspective on adulthood.