Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Cookbook Collecter by Allegra Goodman

What is wealth?

This was a disappointment, even more so because I sensed the broken columns of a truly satisfying novel littering these pages. I admire the ambition to write about 9/11 and the dot com bust and the real estate bust and the recently evolving roles of husband and wife. The problem was that our two sister heroines, Emily and Jess Bach, one an ambitious gogetter, one a dreamy philosopher, are thoroughly nice inside, noble in fact, and nice and noble, absenting any internal conflict, lacks dramatic tension and is boring. Also, I was a little bothered that the privilege of these elite people did not warrant comment. Who lives like this? Who lives like this and never questions their good luck?

The last 75 percent of the book was a chore to read as I didn’t care about the main characters and there were pages and pages, like Freedom  or that Lionel Shriver bookwhere characters just kept talking about current events or software like it was an endless episode of Meet the Press.

I don’t want to go on about the problems – among which is that the cookbooks only show up in the middle and the intriguing cookbook collector himself is far too underutilized. The East Coast West Coast Orthodox family was another fruitful sidetrack that bore exploring.

There is some very nice writing here and an excellent scene of some environmentalists saving a redwood and our girl Jess up there in the top of the tree with a fear of heights. Now that’s conflict!

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