The Summer Without Men, Siri Hustvedt

Oh remember that my life is wind.–Job 7:7

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In this short novel, Siri Hustvedt manages to examine the nature of marriage (Do we tie ourselves to another? Do we become one and the same?), friendship (What does it mean to have a support system? How do we best support our friends?), time, and death (What does it mean to have had a good life?). It’s a lot to pack into 182 pages, but she does it well. The book cajoled me along through my first day of Bookstravaganza, and so it was a good one to start with. Our narrator, Mia, pauses occasionally to apologise when nothing has really happened in the last several pages, but it never feels slow.These asides to the reader seem a bit contrived, but also contribute to a sense of intimacy within the book.

Because I liked the novel so much, I was curious to see what other people thought of it. A lot of the reviews were discouraging and kind of disturbing in that the reviewers claimed to be trepidatious when they first read synopses of the book. The fact that the book is about women (obviously), and is written by a women led many reviewers to initially write it off as chick-lit. When said reviewers looked Hustvedt up and realised that she is a SERIOUS WRITER, they were more inclined to give the book a chance. Yikes. Chick-lit as a designation is hugely problematic, and I’d love to go on about it at length, but I have my stack to get back to. Sit next to me next time we’re at a dinner party together, though, and I promise to give you a scintillating rundown.

Books read: 1


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