Niffenegger disappointment

13 October 2005 at 07:19 Leave a comment

This interview with Audrey Niffenegger points out that she’s always lived in Chicago.

I could have told you that from reading her book, The Time Traveler’s Wife.

She has the title character Clare repeatedly refer to the place she lives as “unincorporated”. Only City People would ever call the country “unincorporated”, though somehow I can’t imagine that many of them do, but the meaning is clear: beyond the pale, uncivilized. And Niffenegger has two “baby punks” in said “unincorporated” area who can’t find out about the real punk scene. I lived a lot farther from a much less major metropolitan area like Chicago and believe me, that’s where Clare and her friends and her friends younger siblings would have been going just about every weekend. And you could find all the music you needed or wanted there. If they couldn’t drive yet, their parents would take them regularly. Once they had a drivers license, forget it, you couldn’t have kept them at home.

And you’d think from reading her book that they don’t deliver magazines or radio waves and certainly not tv/cable out there to the “unincorporated” areas. And that all ‘rural’ homes are kitted out like vacation homes, which is what I assumed the house was until well into the book.

Despite this rather odd flaw, it had an amazingly spiffy start that had me ranking it one of the best books that I had ever read.

But then it loses its soul at the end.

Too, too bad.

As the article notes people are saying, I, too, thought this would be a future classic. I really couldn’t put it down, and she quoted Rilke, clearly on the right track – and then we got to the Art Institute of Chicago Museum…

I admit, I had had my qualms with all the “unincorporated” business (it showed a kind of insularity that was troubling), but at the scene in the museum (trying hard not to spoil it for anyone) I put the book down and didn’t pick it back up for two days. And when I did, I found the rest of it as disappointing as I had expected.

Worse, even.

How can I discuss it without giving it away?

Somehow, at that point, the book lost Clare. And never got her back.

I guess I had been waiting throughout the book to see what was Clare’s purpose in life. We learn what it wasn’t: Not Henry. Not her art. Not her family. Nothing.

Then what was it?  To wait. To wait for death.

Since that’s all our fate, I guess I don’t feel I need to get it in spades from my fiction.


Entry filed under: reading.

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T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



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