Friday, April 27, 2012

Fall RA Book Club: My Name is Red

I read and posted about this book on December 11, 2011.  Below are the reviews from the RAs.

Katherine - I wish I knew Turkish and could read the original version because it takes about 10 pages to really get engrossed, but after that point it’s incredibly flowery and descriptive. It was really interesting to watch Black’s obsessive personality come out. I mean it was always underlying with his love for Shekure and then his need to see the final painting that he and Enishte created. I actually found this comical. It was so interesting because he had already created it and knew what it looked like at the time but then started doubting everything and had to see it again. It was as if he no longer could even trust himself and his profession which he had been doing for so many years. Honestly I felt that the entire plot with the killer was not very important. For most of the book I completely forgot that the underlying message was a murder mystery. Rather I was focused solely on the descriptions of each character. Pamuk did a wonderful job creating these characters and showing their evolutions throughout the novel and he did it through an exciting way of both personal accounts and the descriptions of others. 

Justin - A story involving multiple plot lines, a hard to follow story, and one more thing...about 20 narrators, My Name Is Red offers an intricate read for the advanced reader.  Be warned, this is not a "pick up, put down" book, but one that must be read in long chunks.  The language was beautiful, but for me, it just wasn't a page turner.  Too much detail on parts that should have been two sentences and vice versa.  My Name Is Red can be a good book for some, I just was not feeling it.

Ashima - My Name is Red has a case of the greedies: it seems as if Orhan Pamuk bit off more than he could chew. The density was intimidating at first, but it quickly turned to off-putting. He had written sentences, but he wasn't saying anything. The prose poses more as a work of art, florid and metaphor-laden, than it serves as an effective vehicle for storytelling. It could be due to the fact that it is originally written in Turkish, but I'd love to hear from a native speaker who read the book- was the celebrated beauty of the novel just lost in translation?

Addie - When reading the book, My Name is Red, I had a feeling that I was constantly behind and never ahead of the plot. I know the author was definitely toying with the notion of portraying a piece of art within an art, however I felt he may have been trying so hard for the reader not to know what was happening, that in the process he may have lost the reader almost completely by not getting or "hitting" pivot plot reveals at particular moments in the story. Also the notion of the translation from Turkish to English was fascinating to me because I think it informed for me, as an native American-English speaker, some things I would be unfamiliar with culturally that would advise me to research and look things up about the Turkish culture. Overall, although I wasn't able to enjoy all aspects of the story (or the multiple stories in this case), I was glad and appreciative of the discussion we held in the book club that helped me develop better depictions and background on the characters.

Swati - The premise of the novel is extremely interesting - a murder mystery set in early Turkey/Persia. Very well researched, My Name is Red taught me a lot about miniaturist culture in Persia, something I previously knew nothing about. The story itself, however, was confusing. With a murder mystery, it is important to keep the readers guessing, but only to a certain point. Pahmuk takes a lot of detours in trying to get to his point, a point which, at many times, gets completely lost in everything else he says. It seems that he was trying to get too much information across to the reader, without fully clarifying and explaining his story, leaving the reader confused in a sea of explanations that don't quite fit together.  Not only that, but the actual prose of novel is dense without purpose. Pahmuk uses many beautiful sentences, but they seem to have no purpose in the plot or ambience of the novel. One saving grace of the novel was the characters, of which there many. Because he wrote in the voice of each of his characters, I was able to understand and relate to many of them. I thought Pahmuk's approach to writing the murder mystery was really great. Overall, however, the novel came across to me as confusing and slightly pretentious - I like his general writing style, but this particular novel didn't have a good flow, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm pretty sure I still have no idea what happened at the end.

Nikhita - Orhan Pamuk's "My Name is Red" is an unexpectedly good read. Told from the perspectives of different characters, sometimes nonhuman ones even (Satan, coin, the color red, etc.), this book is well-written and extremely descriptive - probably alluding to the occupation of the main characters as miniaturists (a specific type of painter). From the first page, where you find out that the narrator is speaking from the grave after being murdered, I found myself recalling another book, Lovely Bones, which also commences in the same fashion. However, Pamuk's book carried out much differently and though at first glance appeared to be a murder mystery, actually turned out to be much more. Elegant Effendi's murder was simply the lens by which to examine all of the other characters, who are each unique and interesting in their own right. As we are pulled into story after story, the novel becomes increasingly dramatic and ends in a surprising twist. All in all, a fantastic book and definitely understandable for a pick as a favorite R.A. novel.

Malina - First, I must say I love reading. Books are stories, they're snippets of real life that I can take on when I am tired of my own. I love reading, getting lost in stories and characters and different times. But, sometimes I don't enjoy a story for one reason or another, maybe it was too long or not engaging or I felt suffocated by the density of the text. My Name is Red was suffocating. Though I am sure many enjoyed this tale, I found it difficult to read and finish within the time our book club alotted. Indeed, to be fair - I did not finish the book.The characters were not easy for me to identify with, but I will give this book a fair trial this summer.