22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Diamond in the rough,
This review is from: What I Loved (Paperback)What I Loved is a beautiful, sprawling novel about love and loss. Once you get past the first hundred or so pages, that is. Divided into three parts, the first third genuinely doesn't seem to know where it's going, with interwoven flashbacks that quickly become disorientating. Persevere, though, because the good stuff is yet to come. The book as a whole reads as if Hustvedt honed her literary skills during the course of writing it - and then simply didn't bother to go back and edit part one. The worst of it is that her narrator's voice doesn't ring true at first either. This is supposedly written from the perspective of an elderly man, but Siri Hustvedt is very much female - and it shows. For the longest time there's simply no avoiding the glaring fact that it's a woman speaking here, not a man. Then the novel takes a dramatic turn, and from that point onwards she seems to get into her strides, so to speak.
The method Hustvedt uses to get your attention is hardly original, but it's powerful nonetheless. I hadn't expected to care so much, but a growing affection for the characters had crept up on me somehow and from that point on I was hooked. In short, there's never been a more deserving candidate for the phrase `flawed but interesting'. In spite of the bumpy start there's some magnificent stuff here. This is (partly) a book about the outskirts of the New York art scene, and her lengthy descriptions of one artist's works are rendered stunningly well. Even potentially dry academic subjects are given life and vigour by Hustvedt's pen. Oddly enough, when the book moves into horror film territory, she really excels at the gory stuff - everything is fleshy and real, almost sickeningly so.
This final third of the book, a kind of psychological mystery story, reminded me fleetingly of `The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster, to whom this book is dedicated. The fact that he's also Hustvedt's husband made me wonder if his literary influence had rubbed off on her somehow... But in the end this mostly magical book is unique to Hustvedt, I think. Not perfect by a long shot, but unforgettable nevertheless.
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Initial post: 11 Mar 2011 18:17:07 GMT
P. Martin says:
the mad reader writes--As a great admirer of Paul Auster's novels, I am now looking forward to sampling the work of his wife, which sounds equally challenging. Goodness, what a duo this couple are!. I have found the reviews very useful ,thank you,
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