Thursday, April 17, 2008

And the people were like cattle. And the cats were like cats. And the rich were, like, jerks.

Heheh, well. After reading something like Querelle, Suite Francaise is almost jarringly normal. The prose is simple without being oddly minimalistic or nebulous, but it's still descriptive.. more like something we'd expect from popular novels today? And it's about families during war, women thinking about their sons, young lads eager to fight for their country. The upper class bean mean. Cats catching birds. All that good stuff. I don't exactly hugely dislike this novel, but.... Well, part of it is I just tend to avoid war books/movies as I always expect just this sort of thing from them (in the case of stuff about civilians, anyway), and even if it IS well done I don't really want to hear it again (mind, really, that could be just an unjustified generalization based on insufficient information, as I've done well enough avoiding such stories that now that I think about it, my contact with them lies mostly in the form of history classes and movie previews). So it's partly just a matter of personal preference. And if it had been before Querelle, I would probably found it's normalcy a sort of blessing instead of a slight let down.

Still. I see “national bestseller” on the cover, and I wonder what the big deal is? The more compassionate/humane/moral poor, the more self centered/shallow/superficially kind rich. Boys wanting to fight. The good having to steal to survive. Don't we see this stuff a lot? Looking on imdb, it seems there's a movie in the works. Unsurprising. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was specifically made to be one. For a war story it's so...inoffensive? ...Mild? Nice for a dramatic but not-too-upsetting night at the movies. Oh, and the multiple stories that barely relate to each other? Gosh, people love those these days! Chapter from the point of view of a cat? Great! Nice change of pace!

Not everything has to be hard-hitting to be good or anything.. But I spent last semester in post-colonial lit, up to my back end in books about refugees. Not all those books were hard-hitters either, but they all did feel like they had something to add or say about this story. This one is just so tame and usual. The only really surprising thing, of course, was Huberts oddly homoerotic thoughts on men. I'm...wondering if these will be followed up by something or what...

(No, really, what the heck with the cat? Was that supposed to be funny? It felt kind of out of place to me. ...Maybe I just don't have the right sense of humor? ^_^;)


Amanda said...

do you think that the book is a national bestseller because its a safe mimic of peoples emotions during war time?

Erin said...

I think it is a bestseller because it is different than other books set during this time period. Anne Frank wrote her diary while she was locked in an attic (right?), but Irene Nemirovsky wrote a fictional account of what was taking place around her. This novel could have been depressing and dark or it could possess a bit of hope, a reason for living. I think that this novel represents Irene Nemirovsky's way of grieving, being fearful, etc. during this terrifying dark time in history.

My problem with the cover is that it is a photograph, so I think that it is a still taken from a film. In addition, bestseller and movie seem to go together in my mind so I feel deceived by the cover.