Thursday, July 28, 2011

ROOM and Greek Cheese

Sure, we would always like everything to be a completely perfect experience. We are always in search of our new favorites: possibly the next movie we watch, the next restaurant we visit, etc. But the reality is that perfection only comes along once in a great while. As we wait for the next perfect experience (vacation, DVD rental, etc.) we should appreciate the greatly positive experiences that come along at more of a regular rate.

For instance, my wife and I visited a Greek restaurant for New Year's Eve a few years ago. Our time there was far from perfect, mainly due to the waiter's stubborn refusal to bring more water to our table after delivering the saganaki (Opa!). But the food was terrific, the ambiance was incredible, and the tile-work in the washroom is what I envision as we currently plan our bathroom remodeling project. All of the positive parts came together to create a fantastic time.

Now as Bill Cosby would say, "I told you that to tell you this". I've recently read the book Room by Emma Donoghue for an upcoming book discussion, and while it wasn't perfect, it was certainly in the next neighborhood over. The first page of the book reveals that the book is narrated by a five year-old boy named Jack: Donoghue uses this young voice (successfully, I think) to soften the blow of the issues and themes she tackles. She also utilizes Jack's fresh perspective to raise questions about corners of our everyday world that we never thought twice about. I will eschew examples as I don't want to broadcast any parts of the book out of context (Amazon can do that).

I felt Donoghue could have used some clarification when waving her descriptive powers, and she also could have fleshed out a few of the supporting characters: some were hardly there. However, the pacing of the story, the characterization and pathos of the two main players (Jack and Ma), and the recurring themes of motherhood, language, isolation, and discovery were all on target. The sum of these pretty good parts created a solid, likable novel that I read in four sittings. Is it my favorite book? No. Is it in my top 15 novels? Probably. It certainly is worth its hype.

So what does Room have to do with Greek cheese? Well, nothing really, besides the fact that saganaki seems like the paragon of all experiences (flaming cheese!) until you succumb to the Saharan thirst that comes from ingesting this almost-divine food. There again, not perfect, but close. A key difference? It takes me only one sitting to eat saganaki.

How about you? Any thoughts on Room? Or saganaki?


Anonymous said...

I have never had saganaki, but I just bought the gift certificates for Periyali Greek Taverna, which will serve as the final-week prizes for Adult Summer Reading Club. The ambiance was great, it made me want to stay for dinner!

As for Room, I am still revving myself up for what I've been imagining as sort of a depressing read. On this recommendation, I will start it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely recommend Room. I enjoyed the child's perspective as narrator and got caught in Jack's world. As for saganaki, I may need more convincing.

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