The Loved One and Chicken with Plums

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We've all read books by authors we love and been disappointed. I happened to read two back-to-back. 

The Loved One
by Evelyn Waugh

Dennis Barlow is a poet by night and works at a pet cemetery by day. The British man lives in L.A. and falls in love with Aimee, a woman who does the make-up at a local mortuary. She seems smitten with her co-worker at the funeral home, Mr. Joyboy.

This satire never quite gets off the ground. The characters are sketches of people who never have any depth. It combines comedy and tragedy, but manages to do so in a way that’s neither funny nor touching.

It was a big disappointment to read something so stale from the man who wrote Brideshead Revisited. I know it’s one of his lesser known novels and next time I’ll try one of his more popular ones like Scoop or Decline and Fall.

BOTTOM LINE: A swing and a miss from a great author. We all have our bad days and I’ll chalk this up as one of his.

Chicken with Plums
by Marjane Satrapi

Nasser Ali Khan, was a famous Iranian tar player. When his favorite tar is destroyed he looses his focus and reason for living. Despite having a wife and children, he decides he wants to die.

The graphic novel delves into Khan’s past; his first love, his relationship with his mother and his introduction to tar music. These elements are interesting, but Khan himself is so hopeless that it’s hard to find a reason to root for him.

Khan is the author’s great uncle, so I understand why she wrote the book, but it’s definitely not her best. She is an incredibly talented artist and story teller, but the book fell flat for me. There was no emotion and Khan  comes across as incredibly selfish.

I still loved the artwork and it was a quick read, but it was disappointing in comparison with the author’s other work.

BOTTOM LINE: Skip it and go read Persepolis.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I just wonder if anything could ever live up to Brideshead Revisited? I hear the guy had some serious attitude...just wonder if that pulled him down at times?

Amanda said...

It's funny, because Persepolis is my least favorite of her works. I loved Embroideries even more, and then Chicken with Plums is by far my favorite. It made me cry at the end, that little twist.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - It was so different from Bridehead, I think my expectations were probably skewed.

Amanda - That's hilarious. I have Embroderies on my shelf and I'm thinking it might be perfect for the Dewey read-a-thon in October.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Bummer about Chicken with Plums! I've so wanted to read more of Satrapi but I think that I don't because I'm afraid it won't live up to Persepolis (which I loved).

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - I'm absolutely that way with some authors. I'm worried I'll read something of theirs that I hate, but more often I find a new book of theirs that I love.

Jenners said...

It is disappointing but I guess they can't all be home runs.

Kailana said...

Yes, Persepolis is the best for sure! I was thinking of rereading those, actually.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - Very true.

Kailana - I hung on to my copies. I'm looking forward to Embroderies next.

Remnants of Wit said...

Hi! I'd like to use your picture of the covers of The Loved One for a book review I'm writing on my blog. Is that OK? I'd link back to this post to give you credit. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Remnants - Of course! No problem at all.

Remnants of Wit said...

Thank you!