Current book: Sophie's Choice
Pages read: 3 - 84
As requested, I'll first give you a rundown of the tagine results! It was pretty delicious, actually. I think it needed the addition of fresh herbs, either cilantro or parsley, to finish it (Which I left out because I didn't want to buy a giant bunch of parsley for one dish. But I was a fool.), and I kind of want to try making it with pork and raisins instead of chicken thighs and apricots, but I'd heartily recommend it. Filling and good for you. Anyway, the recipe is here, if you want it. (Only don't listen to the part where it calls for two tablespoons of oil to brown chicken thighs and an onion. One at the most, guys.)
Our heroic narrator in Sophie's Choice is named Stingo (and in the immortal words of all Valley Girls everywhere, let me just say: gag me with a spoon), apparently a prep-school nickname which he has, for some reason, decided to hold onto. Stingo is a writer who has recently graduated from college, tried his hand working for McGraw-Hill in New York, and found that he couldn't stomach the mind-numbing grind of office work. (Man, do I feel him on that one.) So, luckily, he's come into a little money (which is weirdly connected to slavery, since it's basically the direct profit from his grandfather's sale of slave years ago, but has been hidden since and only recently found) and is currently living in Brooklyn in a Jewish rooming house (Notably Jewish because he's talked about it a bunch of times and is not, himself, Jewish.) and trying to write.
His neighbors in the rooming house include Sophie, a Polish woman who was interned at Auschwitz during World War II, only a few years ago. Stingo was in the war, too, we learn, though he never saw combat and was only involved at the very close of the action in the Pacific theatre. So, anyway, Sophie is very beautiful and Stingo kind of instantly falls in love with her, but she's dating a complete asshole named Nathan, who abuses her and yells at her all the time. He's clearly mentally unstable and has insane mood swings, but Sophie seems to love him. Stingo meets them both after a fight, and feels a great deal of contempt for Nathan, but still, somehow, becomes friends with them, obviously more the spend time with Sophie than for any other reason.
So far I really like it. The narrator is a little arrogant and therefore obnoxious, and it has a tendency to get slightly more vulgar than I'd prefer I (He watches a girl from afar, for example, and says he'd like to "fuck her to a frazzle," (11). I don't really have time for that kind of bullshit.), but I'm interested in the story and the characters, and I find the prose and pacing quite engaging. The fact that I'm as interested as I am despite the centrality of an abusive relationship is a pretty good sign for the writing, I have to say. The narration seems fairly autobiographical, although it's not fair to say that without knowing details. I can't help it, though; when writers write about writers writing, I have a tendency to assume that they're relating their own experiences.
As a side note, actually knowing what's going on is a nice change from Faulkner. (Although this guy has mentioned a couple of times how great he thinks Faulkner is, which, since I'm reveling in the relief of clear prose after the Faulknerian fog, is kind of ironic.)
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