Sunday, October 10, 2010

Museums of Love

In Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close  by Jonathan Safran Foer, the main character, Oskar, scours New York in search of someone who can answer his questions about his dad, who died in the 9/11 attacks.  One person who Oskar meets is Georgia Black, who invites Oskar in to visit the museum which she has created in honor of her husband.  It contains his baby shoes, his war medals, his report cards, old photos, etc.  Oskar is feeling  "heavy boots" about the museum, which is how Oskar refers to the type of sadness that keeps him up at night. He thinks that the museum shows how much Mrs. Black loved her husband and he assumes that she must miss him terribly, like he misses his dad.  Suddenly, in walks Mr. Black, who is now anxious to show Oskar his own museum which he has created, presumably featuring Georgia.

With these museums in mind, I read The Museum of Innocence, by Orhan Pamuk, determined that I would not be fooled by the foreboding and ominous hints that the main character, Kemal, drops about the museum that he creates for his love, Fuson.  Pamuk even teased that he admired JSF, and that he was borrowing from his style, in that he introduced himself, Orhan Pamuk, as a guest at an engagement party, just as JSF uses himself as a primary character in his earlier book, Everything is Illuminated.  In fact, it was not until page 469, when Kemal states "After all, a love story that ends happily scarcely deserves more than a few sentences!" that I began to believe that this story really would be a tragedy.

The Museum of Innocence  is not a page turner, but I think that is intentional.  I got through the first 200 pages at a steady pace, but slowed down considerably from pages 200 through 450, while the pace of Kemal's relationship with Fuson stalls.  In fact, if I didn't remember Georgia Black, and wasn't so confident that it would all end well, I probably would have stopped reading.  With it all said and done, I am glad to have read Museum, but am anxious to get on to my next book.

By the way, today was the 2010 Chicago Marathon, which I so did not run, but which was the original reason behind this blog. When I first started blogging, I planned to chronicle every mile that I ran in training, and the books that I thought about while I was running.  Oh well.  I'm really not feeling heavy boots about missing it!

Next up:  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

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