Sunday, August 5, 2007
Book #37: Divisadero
Author: Michael Ondaatje
If Seinfeld was the show about nothing, then Michael Ondaatje is the author who writes about nothing. Not nothing, exactly, in the sense that the characters seem to go through pretty horrifying challenges (burning in a plane and losing a fiance in The English Patient and having your father try to kill your boyfriend/adopted brother in Divisadero, for example). But other than the climactic moment of the attempted murder, not much happens in Divisadero, at least not in a linear fashion, with a resolution and all the stuff that readers of American novels come to expect (but Ondaatje lives in Canada, so maybe that's why).
Anyway, that's not to say I didn't like Divisadero. I did like it. I heard Ondaatje interviewed by Terry Gross a few months ago and she asked about why he chose to lump together (she didn't use that exact wording) what seemed to be several disparate stories, short stories even, into a single novel. Other than having characters who were somewhat related to each other, the stories seem almost entirely separate. The images, separate or related, will stay with me, even if I don't end up remembering how the stories did, or didn't jell together.
--originally published 7/30/07