Friday 28 March 2008

Brush dem teef

And so it begins again. My first book of blog-year two is Giorgio Pressburger's Teeth & Spies, a book I ordered through last year when I was collecting Italian literature in advance of my trip. Of course, I think I read only one Italian book while away and generally spent too much money on other European authors at the Almost Corner Bookshop in Rome. But I knew I'd get to this one eventually, if only for its unique title.

The book turned out to be as unique as its title but I'm not convinced it was actually good. It tells the story of an unnamed narrator and his obsessive need to connect the events of his life and the world with the health (well, ill health) of his teeth. Kind of quirky in conception but not so interesting in execution for the narrator was about as boring and irksome as you can imagine someone that paranoid and neurotic being.

The book is no doubt a comment on modern ennui, man's sense of disconnection, and his related obsessive need to try to force connections that don't exist and blah blah blah, but please - why aren't people able anymore to write weighty, portentous meditations on the human condition that are also just damned good reads? Is Chaucer's dream of combining "sentence and solaas" a dead one (jeez, it's only been 400 years)? Could someone revive Dickens, please?

This was not a good read and in the end, for me, not an extremely deep one either. It left me asking questions as deep as this: Why are this guy's teeth rotting so much - hasn't he ever heard of a toothbrush? Why do so many women want to sleep with a guy with rotting stink-mouth? How can someone that self-absorbed and neurotic be an effective spy? These questions weren't answered for me.

So, I started a full-time contract job this week and I imagine that means I won't get nearly as much reading done as usual. However, I'll see if I can prove myself wrong and read with the stamina of my younger days - I recall reading Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance (about 800 pages, I think) in 2 days while working full-time at the library. I ought to get all up in my reading opponent's grill here except that I'm my own opponent and I don't know how to manage getting up into my own grill. Plus, I don't actually have a grill. I'm going to stop now.

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