Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Snapshot of me reading:

Sitting on my bed while visiting my parents in Bozeman, MT, scratching my head and being confused.


The book:

I felt a little too dumb to read Snow.  A few years ago, I read Pamuk’s My Name is Red and loved it; either I completely missed out on the deep subtexts and just enjoyed the rollicking story and beautiful, unworldly prose, or else MNiR didn’t have any deep subtexts.  Snow, on the other hand, has few rollicking moments and is mainly just symbolism on a plate.  Or maybe I’m trying to give a drudging story too much credit, and there wasn’t any symbolism.  (Which I doubt, because Pamuk won a Nobel Prize mainly for this novel.  Nobody wins a Nobel for being superficial and frivolous.)

Snow has beautiful writing and provides a very interesting snapshot of the religious and political tensions in Turkey, but the characters seemed to just be caricatures of themselves or caricatures of somebody in Turkey I should have heard of before, and the plot was… ridiculous? plodding? glacial? non-existent?  There is a plot, I swear, and there are deaths and all sorts of moments where you could go, “EE-gadz!”, but there is absolutely no plot tension.  It just sort-of washes over the main character, who is a whining dickwad, and so you, as a reader, have absolutely no investment in the character or the plot, which that main character is unfortunately narrating.  If that weren’t bad enough, that narration is being given to us by an omniscient narrator named Orhan, whose purpose is to present to us a manuscript written by the main character. (*cough* LAME! Authors, do NOT insert yourself as pointless characters in your own novels, please!)

Also, the entire book was pretty much a cultural allegory/satire/tragicomedy rolled up into a frame story, and because all of those weighty bits mostly went flying over my head, I felt like I needed to go put myself in the corner with a dunce cap and leave this poor book alone.  (I spent most of my time reading poking this book with a stick, shouting, “What does that MEAN?”)  Anyways, Snow was not my favorite Pamuk book, and was one that has pushed me one seat closer to falling off the edge of the Reading Weighty Books That Make Me Look Smrt bandwagon.  5 out of 10.


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