Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

Unfortunately, I left this book in Cleveland where I've been with my family for the past couple of weeks.

I'm also a very bad book reviewer. I care less about telling YOU what I think about the book, and more about having a record of reading it.

A friend got me to watch Scent of A Woman once. He explained it, generally, as, "You'll ask yourself why you're watching it for most of the movie. And then the ending will come and you'll be happy you did."

I feel the same way about Museum of Innocence. The narrator is a rich playboy who is about to be engaged to a woman who is, by all counts, incredible. He then starts an affair with an 18-year-old who is, by all counts, incredible. The entire time, I got the feeling that if this was Museum of Innocence and Zombies, where zombies attack whenever a character does something against their better judgment, you would need buckets to catch the lead. There are then 400 pages of longing and questions of sexuality and modernism. Then there's a denouement.

The denouement is fun. Anytime a writer gets to say, "Hello, this is Orhan Pamuk!" it's pretty amusing. And, I mean, I'm a museum nerd, so the fact that Pamuk actually went to all sorts of tiny museums to get at the essence of collection is kinda fun.

There are probably huge chunks I don't understand, not having any crippling questions of Modernity swelling up inside of me. There are lots of fantastic descriptions of Istanbul in the spring, making this sort of a partner-book with Black Book and its focus on winter. And it was nice for Celal Salik, Ka, and Pamuk himself to show up, thus shifting his books into a whole other shadow universe. Fun stuff. And Orhan Gencebay shows up? Fantastic!

This was probably my least-favorite Pamuk book (White Castle is still my favorite), and while I respect what Pamuk does in his work, and how he tries to build up all of his books along the same thoughts....this was 400 pages of longing in a 500 page book. I can't take that much longing, from such an objectionable character, myself.


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