Thursday, September 19, 2013

What I'm Reading: Fame, A Novel in Nine Episodes by Daniel Kehlmann

I added Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes by Daniel Kehlmann after it popped up as a book I might like on Amazon. This is the description:
“Imagine being famous. Being recognized on the street, adored by people who have never even met you, known the world over. Wouldn’t that be great?
But what if, one day, you got stuck in a country where celebrity means nothing, where no one spoke your language and you didn’t speak theirs, where no one knew your face (no book jackets, no TV) and you had no way of calling home? How would your fame help you then?
What if someone got hold of your cell phone? What if they spoke to your girlfriends, your agent, your director, and started making decisions for you? And worse, what if no one believed you were you anymore? When you saw a look-alike acting your roles for you, what would you do? 
And what if one day you realized your magnum opus, like everything else you’d ever written, was a total waste of time, empty nonsense? What would you do next? Would your audience of seven million people keep you going? Or would you lose the capacity to keep on doing it?

Fame and facelessness, truth and deception, spin their way through all nine episodes of this captivating, wickedly funny, and perpetually surprising novel as paths cross and plots thicken, as characters become real people and real people morph into characters. The result is a dazzling tour de force by one of Europe’s finest young writers.

I snatched up the book—well, I downloaded it—for what I thought would be some fun, light reading at summer’s end. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly deliver. I do not think the book was a bad read or even a difficult one. I just don’t think the intersection between the characters is developed enough to make the book a cohesive piece of work. I also feel like certain characters disappeared too soon (read: just as I was getting wrapped up in their plot lines).  Maybe, my hopes were too high based on the description? The writing is good and the stories are interesting and complex despite their brevity. I just needed a little more to tie everything together. I was sort of left reeling (and in some cases hanging) on the precipice of a really great story only to have it end and pick up in something totally disconnected. If you read it, think of it as short stories without the luxury of a complete wrap up rather than connected episodes. Yes, there are some characters who cross paths but it doesn’t happen enough that I would highlight it as a selling point for the book.

So how do I really feel about the book? I wouldn’t tell you not to read it but it wouldn’t be on the top of my list of recommendations. I got through the book. That I didn’t away from it says it’s not a terrible read. It just left me needing a little something more. In looking at other book reviews, I noticed that some people felt a bit of the book’s beauty gets lost in translation (it was originally written in German).  Have you read Fame? What are your thoughts?

I am working out my reading list for the rest of the year. Any suggestions? 

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