Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: "The Appointment" by Herta Muller

The Appointment by Herta Muller is a very well written novel with a very interesting setting that gets a bit bogged down by changes in setting and time that happen way too fast and little too much attention to detail. I feel a lot of the feeling that this novel is supposed to instill in the reader is supposed to come from the experience of living in a country with as much oppression and corruption that existed in Romania during the regime of Ceausescu. For the most part, the feeling comes forth, but only vaguely, and a lot of the effectiveness of the book gets lost in the obsession Muller has with and almost Proust like need to detail every memory the main character has and how it is linked to a better time. While I feel silly for saying a book is too wordy, that is the case with some books, especially with a plot as juicy as the one laid out. On a tram to a meeting with Romania’s secret police she may not come back from, a unnamed woman reflects on what has led her to this moment. From the shooting death of her friend Lilli, to the bittersweet moments she has with her alcoholic lover Paul, and the act of sewing notes into clothing begging for an Italian man to marry her. Through these memories, we see an almost Dystopian wasteland that Romania has become, where a brutal dictatorship’s rules have implanted themselves in the minds of the people, creating a group of citizens whose only means of joy is the misfortune of others and not them. It is profound statement that gets lost in a clunky confusing time line of events that switch from sometimes from sentence to sentence that leaves the reader in the dust, and not in a good way. And Muller’s descriptions of memory can be beautiful by them, but got tedious as I was begging for some clear resolution. I can see why she won the Nobel Prize, and respect her for her contributions, but that doesn’t always make for a good reading experience.
Rating: 3/5

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