You switch from a Calvino to a Lebanese war novel. Attempting a tan and feigning interest in a novel which resembles all others, you deem the switch uninteresting. You were not expecting to be intrigued. But the least you could have anticipated while reading a “new” war novel by an uprising Lebanese novelist, is novelty. However, what you get is exactly the same plate you have been consuming since your interest was sparked by Rabih Alameddine. You realize that the book you have started reading has been written, read, and discussed before. War-torn Beirut, displacement, fear and terror, attachment to one’s country, the need to leave, the guilt of leaving, etc. etc. etc.

You are biased to Koolaids. You are attached to its fragmented form, its vignettes, its words, its content, its themes, its intermeshing of voices, so much so that you have set it as a meter on which you base your criticism, a pillar for novels, a spectrum against which you measure other genre-, theme-, and topic-related books. But you do admit that its war narrative, since it is a composition of various narratives in one, is unique, resembling only itself. You look back at the book you were reading and you are faced with a mixture of rage and desire to throw it aside. But you are committed to finishing what you started, condemned by a few words of criticism you vowed on yourself to write. So you sit, attempting to finish a book in the sun.

You soon give up and walk towards the pool. Calvino awaits, you say. Calvino always awaits.

Advertisements