Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

What Is Jhumpa Lahiri's Hook?

Asks New York Magazine.

I'm glad to see that people are paying attention to Jhumpa Lahiri's (my favorite contemporary novelist) unabashed love of storytelling and her lack of rhetorical show-off:

Stylistically, she doesn’t have a hook: no genre bending, no comics-inflected supernaturalism, no world-historical ventriloquism, no 9/11 flip books. Just couples and families joining, coming apart, dealing with immigration, death, and estrangement.

But what I wonder about this thesis is why it stops there. It seems a bit simplistic--yes, Lahiri's prose doesn't call out to us as fancy, per se, but THAT IS AN ART IN AND OF ITSELF. She is able to let us slip into the story, with clear, brisk sentences and a lack of ego in her style. This is no easy feat, as Virginia Woolf reminds us in the one part of A Room of One's Own (besides the Judith Shakespeare stuff) that I consistently refer to.
Here was a woman about the year 1800 writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching. That was how Shakespeare wrote, I thought … and when people compare Shakespeare and Jane Austen, they may mean that the minds of both had consumed all impediments; and for that reason we do not know Jane Austen and we do not know Shakespeare, and for that reason Jane Austen pervades every word that she wrote, and so does Shakespeare. 17

Regardless, I'm looking forward to reading Lahiri's short story collection. I know I'll be amazed and moved and horribly envious, as well. But in a good, inspirational way!

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