Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides

To me, this is a classic highly readable modern novel, a la Freedom. It's about people who seem real, and takes place in a real place and time -- New England and New York in the early 1980s. There's no complicated chronology, no scenes set in the future, no characters who reappear under different names, none of that. There's not much in the way of literary device (that I noticed anyway) except the plot itself, a re-imagining of the classic choice between the difficult maverick genius and the "nice guy." My roommate was just telling me about the latest Twilight movie and it sounds exactly like this book, if this book were terrible instead of being awesome, and also included vampire babies (?).

Adding to my enjoyment of it was that it begins in Providence, RI, one of my all-time favorite places. Eugenides' depiction of the mixture of college-town bohemia and uber-WASPiness (I have such a soft spot for WASPiness, croquet and summer homes and martinis at five and not talking about feelings ...) that characterizes Providence's east side was spot on. Just writing that makes me wish I was there right now, taking in the perfect Revolutionary War-era colonials, cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes.

Bottom line is: definitely read The Marriage Plot if, like me, you real novels instead of watching television. And no matter what you read, visit Providence if you ever have the chance.


naomi said...

I liked this book so much I could feel the pleasure of reading it. Seldom have I enjoyed reading a book so much, at least a recently published book. The only other books that I can recall giving me such intense, long lasting pleasure are those by that old shaggy dog, Pat Conroy. (Who you would probably not like much, as what he writes is 2000% Southern Fried Baloney). But my god, did I love this book- not so much anything about it per se, but reading it was so delightful.

Jessica K said...

I do like Pat Conroy! In small doses. After a while all of his books start to sound the same, a la John Irving, or, as I am starting to believe, Michael Chabon.