Thursday, March 5, 2015

the last book I ever read (Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman, excerpt seven)

from 2014 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine:

There are images that remain with me. I remember reading an essay—I believe it was by Nuruddin Farah, but I can’t be sure—where the writer says that all we remember from novels are scenes or, more precisely, images. I don’t know if that’s the case, but a number of authors seem to write their novels in one image after another—Michael Ondaatje is probably the best practitioner of the form, as his novels seem to be not so much plot as a series of discrete divine images. I still can’t remember who wrote that essay. Maybe it was Ondaatje, but I doubt it.

I’m not a proponent of the above idea, because if all we retain from a novel is an image, then the obvious conclusion is that photography, painting, or film would be a better medium of communication and a higher art form. Not a satisfying conclusion. Also, I loved The English Patient as a novel, but the movie, with the exception of the lovely Juliette Binoche, is much too syrupy.

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