Sunday, February 22, 2009

I will never be Ian McEwan. Or finish one of his novels, frankly. I barely sat through the movie version of Atonement.

I’m a plot person. I told this to a friend of mine last night while we waited for our dinner sitting at the bar at Chevy’s. That’s just the kind of lowbrow I am, you see: I like a good plot, and I get my Mexican food at Chevy’s. My friend reassured me by telling me that she herself knows that any book nominated for the Booker prize is one she isn’t going to like.

I was reminded of Nick Hornby’s collection of book reviews, The Polysyllabic Spree (fabulous), in which he writes that not only could he not write one of these novels; he couldn’t be a character in one of these novels. My friend said that if she were a character in a novel of this certain kind of profundity, she would be looking at the collection of bottles behind the bar at Chevy’s, and the color of the glass would remind her of some remarkable event from her childhood. I had, in fact, been looking at the bottles earlier and wondering who ever thought to make orange vodka. We both brooded on our shallowness.

As we were leaving, I put my hand in my coat pocket and stabbed my finger on a thorn that had somehow gotten inside. A perfect example, I said to my friend, of what ought to be symbolic and invested with deep and profound meaning. She said, “Either that, or the napkin that is stuck to your shoe.” Just then a server flagged me down to let me know of my humiliation, the white tassel dragging dramatically behind my weather-beaten heel. Which was probably symbolic of something.

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