Monday, November 23, 2009
Making minced meat out of Cockroach
I wasn't crazy about Hage's novel either, but for very different reasons. There is something nagging about Mary Gaitskill's review in the NY Times book section, an undercurrent of envy for Rawi's success. Far from his prose being "mannered, preening and clumsy," they struck me as overcooked, like he continually overstretches. Okay, "clumsy" yes. But as I pointed out, and Gaitskill hardly even mentions, the main character is suicidal, and therefore more than slightly off-kilter. She's right about the lack of drama in the novel as a whole, and I think it's because Hage is essentially a novice, still learning his craft. The ability to develop plot, pace and dramatic tension is a sophisticated aspect of the artform and requires practice. His descriptive ability obviously comes much more naturally (I'm guessing it has something to do with his years as a practicing photographer.) Hage is still working out the kinks of storytelling. Gaitskill could have offered a fairer assessment.