Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Book Mention- The Red Book by Deborah Kogen

When I asked for this book on an inter library loan, I was twelfth in line. When I went to pick it up after only waiting two weeks I was surprised, though after reading the first 40 pages I was not. It spent only 48 hours in my house, and that on the hall table.

If I was a professional reviewer I would have felt an obligation to read the whole book. As a mere reader, I was spared.

This book is about four women who are assumed to be worth a book because they graduated from Harvard, even though their lives turned out to be disappointing. Imagine if a different novelist had pitched a novel to a publisher about four friends who graduated from UT Martin, who are united 20 years after college. The only way it would be published would be if the story has these women rallying round one of their number who took a shotgun to her Church of Christ preacher husband,who was ,of course, abusing her and her children. Even then the author would have to provide a sympathetic country star resembling Tim McGraw, to put up bail and rescue the heroine.

No such plot in Kogen's book. These women went to Harvard, therefore they are interesting.

Here is the Representative Black Girl-Clover-meeting an old white male classmate named "Bucky".

"Bucky, Oh my God!Is that you?". The two embrace in the type of respectful-but familiar hug practiced by those who were once on a first name basis with each other's reproductive organs".

A few pages later Clover remembers how alien Bucky's world was to her at first. She remembers a "secret chalice" of proper nouns and names she had to learn. And here they are- Siasconset.Brearly.Andover.St Alban's. Farmington.Buckingham,Brown and Nichols. Not to mention popular clubs, bars and restaurants.

Ms Kogan's editor must have intervened here,pointing out that if Clover did not know what St. Albans was, the general reader from Nashville or Minneapolis would not know either. The answer to this problem? Footnotes at page bottom.

I will also mention that Ms Kogen commits serial abuse of breezy terms such as "random" and "can't wrap their head around". Forty pages of this may not seem like enough to some book clubbers, but it was way too much for me.

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