Tuesday, 11 November 2014

BOOK REVIEW : THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE by ORHAN PAMUK



Hello people, imagine a scenario... A new Michelin star restaurant has opened up in your city and you have been wanting to go there since quite sometime. Finally the grand day comes and you go there for a much awaited dinner. But, lo behold, instead of enjoying a magnum opus culinary experience, you come back with a feeling of cheated out and being totally in the pits...Reason being very simple : you chose the wrong dishes!!
I am facing the same predicament this time. Orhan Pamuk is a name that needs no introduction in the literary world. He is an institution by himself and is a winner of the Nobel prize. He is often compared to the likes of Charles Dickens and other great literary legends. I am not exaggerating in my claim when I say that this was one author whom I really really wanted to read. I was super excited to finally get hold of an Orhan Pamuk  book.
But my excitement did not even last the first 100pages!!!
Saying that I was feeling low as a result, would be an understatement. Since the book is almost 720 pages, I was not willing to give up and was hoping that the story would pick up sometime soon..but somehow I just could not rebuild the excitement or the feeling of being able to relate to the characters of this novel and it was all downhill since then...
But that's not to say that "The Museum of Innocence" is a bad book. Its an exceptional writing by Pamuk. He has written this book from his heart and as you go through it, you realise the awesome research put in by him to bring alive a certain era and its people, the society, the culture and the way people conducted themselves during that period.
It is a simple story with beautiful insights into the human psychology, human behaviour and societal norms at large.
The central characters here are Kemal and Fusun, two people who are true soulmates but are not able to spend their lives together owing to destiny. Pamuk tells us the story in Kemal's voice( first person's account) in a very moving manner making the reader experience the various ups and downs faced by these lovers in their lives. Kemal's love for Fusun makes him at times appear desperate, arrogant,rude, obsessive, spineless and selfish. But one characteristic typical throughout the book was his love for Fusun, however flawed. His actions, his decisions were all centered around his one desire and that was to marry Fusun.
I could not for most part of the story relate to the character of Kemal and his behaviour. I found it very weird the way he used to collect things used by her,like cigarette stubs, her earrings etc. Initially he would steal them when no one was watching and later deliberately, asking for them.
What was different (at least for me) in this story was the manner in which Orhan Pamuk comes in the end of the story as himself, an author who agrees to write a book on Kemal and Fusun's story from Kemal's point of view in his voice. It makes the story seem real and  factual.
I have learnt a few notable truths about me,the reader from this Orhan Pamuk book and they are:
  • In my role as a self proclaimed voracious reader, I now lack in patience. To be able to keep my interest alive through almost 700pages was almost an ordeal.
Conclusion : I should check the number of pages and only then lay my hands on a book.
I must be sounding a lunatic who does not understand books at all but this was not always the case. In fact one of my all time favourite author is Ayn Rand and we all know how thick her books are!!
  • I am not very high on reading long descriptions. Even when I was younger I would skip all sorts of descriptions and that habit is still there. This trait happens quite naturally, almost like a second nature - skipping long descriptions!!
  • I should in future ask fellow book lovers about their experiences about a particular author/ book and then dip my hands in it!!
( This is more of a advice to myself than a point of self discovery)
  • The most important point is that I should first read the author's most popular books and then go on to read the lesser known ones. In this way I will ( in an ideal situation) not be disillusioned or disheartened by the hype generated around a particular book.
Finally, I would like to say that everyone has their tastes and I am sure there are many who love this book. But this one just did not do it for me!!!!