Despite my 2-star rating, I enjoyed the book -- the Ukrainian side of the narrator role is hilarious in his consistent misuse of the English language, as if he learned to speak English by reading a thesaurus -- but the phrase that best describes the overall "ick" factor of the book would be "self-absorbed." It's really hard to separate the author of the novel from the protagonist, of the same name, and the latter isn't all that much likable.
The other thing that really annoys me about the book is the consistent overreaching for quotable moments. The way to manufacture these quotable moments, it seems, is to write a phrase and then reverse it. Or perhaps to reverse the phrase and then write it. You see what I mean. Let's try for a few more:
- Love is death, but only death is truly love
- I am my grandfather, and he is me.
- There are so many things to be said, and there is nothing to be said.
The book is FULL of these reversals, and it gets so that you just want the author to move past them and keep telling the darn story.
Anyway, I did like the story, but these two things -- the self-absorbed Jewish narrator/author and the cloying reversals -- disappointed
Fareed Zakaria is funny on The Daily Show. In this book, he is not funny, nor entertaining, nor particularly insightful. I suppose if you have not been paying attention to the news and don't realize that India (and China) is something of a large country, you may be surprised by what Fareed has to say. I was not.
The narrator is just annoying (all the things everyone else said about his Apu accent) AND didn't like the 1st person voice (annoying). As for this second point, I can see how that would be a legit literary choice (to have an obnoxious 1st person voice), but I prefer 1st person books where the voice/character is someone I'd want to hang out with on my own accord. This is not one of those.
The story is good, the details are often amazing, but then the author repeatedly devolves into some pablum about how, say, "the opposite of love is suffering, and the opposite of suffering is love." EVERY CHAPTER has these ridiculous passages, and they don't get any better as the book goes on, trust me. It's a farce of attempted profundity. ... I could only get through half of the book before realizing I was wasting my time. ... To devote 40 hours to an audiobook, it needs to be incredible. This one isn't. Don't bother with it.
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