Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Cellist of Sarajevo quite the novel. I finished it last night. I mentioned it briefly in this comment and in this post and now again simply because it warrants the attention. Oddly enough, I've been on the go a lot and so far this year the only other novel I've read is The Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee. I'm struck by how much the two novels have in common. They speak to the conscience. The literature of conscience, as Cynthia Ozick calls it in this New York times review of Coetzee's novel, makes for unsettling bedtime reading. It opens your eyes, eyes that would rather be closed. These two novels shook me just enough to wake me up.


Gerald Hill said...

I just finished the novel myself. I admired its voices and its thematic apparatus--something about choices, about what we cam do when life strips down, maybe--but found the last section to be entirely unconvincing, too obviously an ending. Still, I love the way he built a novel out of the title image.

Brenda Schmidt said...

I wondered at the ending, too. I wonder if the predictable nature of it was intended. I think it was. How else end a novel that essentially replays the numbing horror that people live with in cities under siege? It goes on all the time and always has. A predictable conclusion reminds us of this, I think. And how do people carry on in life knowing this? What other than a pat ending would bring home the collective hope that somehow, and for the most part predictably, survives through all this? How do you make the reader think about this? About our choices? How do you keep the reader from turning away in despair from the bleakness of it all? Is the problematic ending just a problem that the author failed to resolve, or is it meant to problem the reader?