Thursday, February 23, 2012

Richard on Flight, Freedom, and Fatness in Absurdistan

Since our book club blog has been silent for far too long, I'll offer up a quick one (and word on the street is that Steve and Courtney have full "book reports" on the way). Next meeting is still scheduled for the Tap on Monday March 5.

[No major spoilers]

Absurdistan's prologue ends with images of flight, of Misha sailing "like a fat beam of light" over his beloved, multi-cultural New York neighborhoods. It's a lovely moment of freedom ("The city rushes out to locate and affirm me."), but of course most of the book is about the difficulty of obtaining such moments. As Misha tells us from the outset, we are reading not just a love story but "a book about geography," and it is one which reveals that the borders of the modern world are not so porous as one might assume. Misha spends the first half of the novel trapped in Russia. Then he's trapped in Absurdistan, deprived of even "mobilnik" service in a world that's half lavish and built on American oil money, the other half mired in poverty and war: "Respected mobile phone user...your attempt to make a connection has failed." Modern literature is nothing if not failed connections, and it's easy to feel for poor obese Misha, whose largeness seems both a symbol of his cultural appetites and also a storehouse for all his frustrated desires: he describes the "toxic hump" on his back as "a repository for all my anger, a kind of anti-heart on the back of me that keeps the sadness pumping."

1 comment:

  1. Am I the only one who's having a really fucking hard time finishing this book? I love it, really, but its 300 pages are more of a slog than 1Q84.

    I might not finish the book... but I swear to god I'm going to finish my dirty dirty Misha & Alyosha Bob hip hop mix.