Orhan Pamuk is both a brilliant and an intensely frustrating writer, and _Snow_ demonstrates this ambiguity full-tilt. His depiction of Kars--the details he lavishes on it--fully immerses us in small-town Eastern Turkey, with its heartbreak and dignity, corruption and sweet naivete. He honestly admits that it may well be impossible for Westerners (or Western Turks) to fully comprehend. His plot is complex, his love story bittersweet, his characters memorable, his political commentary quite pointed. AND THEN he makes the same points, lavishes us with the same details, weaves the same sidetracks, dissects the same characters, over and over and over again. His protagonist Ka cannot stop talking, his narrator "Orhan" is even worse, and as in every novel I have read of Pamuk's (most of them), I find myself wishing desperately that he had a more severe editor. He is brilliant; how much more stunning would he be with one-third fewer pages?
Listening to an audiobook helps this process, and the reader for _Snow_ is quite good.
I used this book in my travel writing class at the university last year after reading (and loving) it myself. Nearly everyone thought it was great--including the 20-year old guys, one of whom even signed up for Sanskrit lessons because of it. The way in which Gilbert shifts her voice in each section is quite compelling--particularly the shift from sarcasm to humility from Eat to Pray. Gilbert's own reading of this audiobook helped me, as well, to get through the more self-indulgent Love section, as one could hear clearly the smile in her voice.
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