In the High Peaks

Friday, May 26, 2017

Down Time Weekend and Wieke Wang's Chemistry

It's been raining for 50 hours straight so far, but luckily it's been a steady light rain, which is soaking in to the ground. Thankful.
I'm not exactly sure how my reading weekend is shaping up at this moment on a Friday evening, but these are my clues:

I've been enjoying the extraordinarily spare writing style of Wieke Wang, whose debut novel Chemistry has been published this month. I have been drawn to this story of a young Chinese-American woman, who is convinced that the world of chemistry in the laboratory mandates her entire future. She struggles, then she fails abysmally and irrevocably, and--she moves on.

And  halfway through the book I'm fascinated to discover what she will do with her moving on. We've learned she is resilient, she is strong (though she's not convinced of that fact), and I just know (and I think the author wants you to know) that she will find her way, eventually, and with humor.

The prose is written totally in the most unusual sort of  present-tense and is undeniably awkward. But don't let that put you off.  I feel the main characters are like fish out of water with this verb tense, and I wonder if that is the author's intention. The verb tense is not comfortable, yet the novel is a quick read. The young woman narrator is  romantically involved with an All-American, red-headed, Pennsylvania-born only son of a perfect family--no conflicts, no problems--ha! Her family, on the other hand, is tortured, and she is the first-generation only child of Chinese-American parents who have struggled ceaselessly from their childhoods in China. Can her relationship be saved? And what will happen to their beloved goldendoodle if it is not?

So I'll be finishing this novel, and hopefully reading on in The Widow's House. I'm determined to finishing listening to Bruce Springsteen's awe-inspiring memoir Born to Run (while knitting). And I hope to continue John Le Carre's memoir The Pigeon Tunnel, which is so interesting, yet so deep and nuanced that I'm not sure I'm "catching" all he means me to catch.  Did you know that 85-year-old John Le Carre has a new George Smiley novel coming out this fall 2017?? If this memoir is any indication, his skills and mind are as sharp as ever.

Have a great weekend! I may well be posting before it is over.

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