September 10, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments

A. D. Miller’s Snowdrops seems to have riled up at least a few critics following the announcement of the Man Booker short list.  I don’t know what the fuss is about because I thought it was great.

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The problem is that it’s a decadently easy read, almost an airport novel.  It has many of the elements of a spy thriller:  sexy women, mysterious men in suits, fancy cars, corrupt politics.  It’s like a James Bond story in which James Bond is kind of a dork and doesn’t have a gun.

It also has a great minimalist sensibility.  It made me think of Kawabata’s Snow Country.  It’s atmospheric and thoughtful, with that great Russian sense of depressive nostalgia.  Granted, it won’t win the prize this year, but I think it’s deserving of its spot on the short list and I’m curious what Miller will write next.



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  1. Whew! I can’t keep up with you. But thank you for posting about the Booker-potentials. I generally only get to one or two a year, and I’ll definitely take your opinion (along with the official judge’s) into consideration before I make my selections.

    Also, this post in particular, brings up an interesting point about what makes “good” literature. Does literary fiction have to mean “generally difficult to slog through” and “most people will not like it”? I think there are those books that have both universal and literary appeal. Gone with the Wind immediately springs to mind as a prime example, but I’m sure there are many others.

    • Now, that is a fascinating observation, and a question I have often pondered. Stephen King says that literary fiction is about extraordinary people doing ordinary things, while he writes about – and prefers to read about – ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I would say that the literary work with mass appeal is a rare treasure indeed. Unfortunately, many really terrific literary works seem to be unappealing to the majority of readers. Either they don’t even care to pick them up and read past the jacket copy, or they make an attempt due to publicity and are incredulous that such a book is supposed to be any good.

      As for Snowdrops, it may turn off some readers because of its crassness while still eluding an audience more appreciative of action films.

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