"Meh" reads this month.
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
I wanted to love this book like the other two I read this month, but I couldn’t. I only finished it because I was curious if there would be a twist at the end.
This reading journey felt like going on a ferry, thinking that it might go faster or do some light show or something, but then nothing really happens - I’m still on the ferry going back to the same spot where I got on.
But that being said, the mundanity of the story worked for the dystopian style of the book. In a world where things keep disappearing one by one, until there’s basically nothing left, our main character goes through her life surviving as best she can. With the help of a friend and her editor turned lover, she tries to stay optimistic about living, until reality hits her too hard. It’s an interesting book, with deep prompts and questions on memory, reality, contentment.
There’s a lot on government control, limiting what its citizens can and can’t have. Reminds me a bit of censorship but in a very literal way. The interesting thing for me is that the main character is a writer, and in the book we get snippets of her novel, which to me, was actually more interesting than the book itself, although that was just used as a commentary on the bigger picture of what was going on.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I wanted to love this book so bad! Partly because I’ve heard it’s a sci-fi classic, and also because it’s the same author who inspired the TV show, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which I adore. After reading Hitchhiker’s, I could definitely see the similarities of the voice, mood, and style of the two. However, I never could quite get into Adams’ writing. I just couldn’t bring myself to love it, even for a second.
I found myself rereading passages a lot, just so I was sure what was going on, which for a lot of the time, I wasn’t sure. To me, this was too much energy on my part just to understand a little of the story. I can’t even say what this book is about. It is a series, though, whose story may become more clearer in the subsequent books, but I definitely will not be sticking around. A few laughs, lots of whim, just not for me.
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
Interested by the cover and premise of this book, I thought I’d have a really enjoyable read. But no. This book was hard to get through. I read it at the same time as another book that I couldn't finish, and this one was more tolerable. I think this book was trying to do too many things, that a lot of it seemed confusing and didn’t work for me.
Also, the title is totally misleading. Yes, the setting is in a Chinese restaurant, but the story is more about the characters who work there. The restaurant is also supposed to have a significance in the community, but I never got the sense of its effect.
Because the focus is so character heavy, I didn’t feel like there was much of a story. There was an event that happened, but it didn’t really become a focus. I didn’t care for the characters, and that’s mostly because I don’t think they were given enough chances to be separate from what the author, the characters even, presumed them to be. I don’t understand what their purpose was, I don’t understand why I was to care about them.
This book had some good moments, but it was very confusing.
Nairobi Heat by Mūkoma wa Ngūgī
This is a detective novel, and though short, it does a good job. I was pulled in by the first chapter. It’s intense, fun, adventurous, and suspenseful. I enjoyed the writing. I felt the first person was so strong, and almost as if I were in the main character’s subconscious a lot of the time. It felt very casual, yet precise language was used.
The only things I didn’t like were how the case was solved and the amount of redundant killings. I felt it was overdone. Also, there’s an exaggerated occurrence at the end that just seemed out of place. But excellent writing. Great travel writing, too.