Penny Book Review: Native Speaker

Picture taken at night, and that's why the weird glare. If I'd been thinking right, I would have had that scotch at mid-day.

Ey-yo. I’m back.

Incidentally, this is my first attempt at blogging from my iPad. Yes, that’s right. My regular laptop got a drink of the ol’ flat white this weekend and decided it was done living. Because, you know. It’s November, aka NaNoWriMo, aka the month to lose everything.

Anyway, fingers crossed that the Best Buy Geek Squad diagnostic will say it’s gone for good and I can replace it with the shiny new MacBook Pro I’ve been lusting after for the past several months.

Alas! Computer woes are decidedly not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the L book of Penguin Dropcaps*, Native Speaker, by Chang-Rae Lee.

I’m also here to introduce a new feature to these Penny Book Reviews, something I’m calling Accompanying Drinks. Because I’m not feeling creative tonight, I guess.

What’s an Accompanying Drink? Simply put, it’s the beverage (adult or not, but yeah, probably always adult) I’d recommend drinking with the book being reviewed. In the case of East of Eden by John Steinbeck it would be…hmm. Well, now that’s a good question. Cheap whisky? Oh! It would be Lee’s special drink, the one that tastes like apples.

You know what? That’s just not a good book to use as an example. So I’ll go right on ahead with it: the Accompanying Drink for Native Speaker is scotch, on the rocks. And a lot of it. (Well, or not, because I don’t ever recommend overdoing it with alcohol. That entry will come later.)

Hang on, let me just pour myself a finger.

Ah. Yes. I like this. Drinking a Talisker 10-year while I give my little, worthless review.

Here’s the thing. Last Saturday I could be heard ranting about this book. And not in any positive sense of the word. Lee’s descriptions bothered me, and they seemed to be the symptom of a larger problem in contemporary adult literature. The plot bugged me, too. It was moving too slowly. The main character lost his son, boo hoo, then his wife left him, boo hoo hoo.

Somewhere along the line I started gaining an actual interest in the plot. I think it was the point when Henry Park (our MC) and his wife Leila finally reconciled. Things got happier. And then his work as a corporate spy got super interesting, because he was working a campaign for a Korean city councilman in NYC who was rumored to be looking at running for mayor, but obviously he was a spy, so he was having to dig up dirt on this guy…cue firebombings and drunk driving accidents with underage illegal Korean callgirls. (Not the MC, thank goodness.)(Also, each one of those incidents is in the singular.)

So, yeah. It grows on you. I still have trouble with contemporary adult fiction** (can I call it CoAdFic?), but, um…it’s okay and I’m trying to be a better person.

Next month, stay tuned for me finally finishing my white whale, Moby Dick. Ha! Seriously, though. I’ve been reading it since, er, last February? But it is literally the M book of the series, so I am obliged to finish it.

In the meantime, stay sober, and read good books. (Good catchphrase there, huh?)

*Careful readers will observe that I skipped over the K book, Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Sure I did. I also took another long blog hiatus, so there. My couple-sentence summery: great book!  Black Madonna and honey! But it is not, in fact, about an aged Sherlock Holmes solving mysteries with his, er, apprentice. So, just…you know. Be aware.

**Looking at you, three-quarters finished Goldfinch.

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