It’s Slow Going

 

Call It Sleep by Henry RothFor the past few weeks I’ve been reading Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. I interrupted it because I had promised Penguin Classics a review on Call It Sleep by Henry Roth. Then my copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer came in at the library and I had to see what happens to Bella, Edward, Jacob, and their friends.

After finishing that, I returned to Dr. Zhivago. This book is a slow read. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a Russian book or Pasternak’s writing or because I’m not reading it in its native language (I’d never finish it if I tried to read it in Russian!) The language frequently is unwieldy and heavy. The sentences and structure are often clumsy.

The book is interesting when Pasternak focuses on the people in the story. In fact, the first thing I did was make post it notes on the ancillary characters so I could keep track of who is who.

I find some of Pasternak’s descriptions beautiful. When Zhivago and his family are on the train from Moscow east to an old family settlement, there is a description of the water as the snow thaws in the spring. You can almost see the water playfully rushing along as it unfreezes.

But the politics…which is why the book was written, not for the love story between Zhivago and Lara like the movie centralizes. Those scenes during political discussions or when the reader is following the revolutionist army from camp to camp or the battle scenes – those weigh me down.

Book club is Tuesday night and I’m only 2/3 of the way through. One of our members grew up in Russia. She chose this book for us to learn and appreciate some great Russian literature. I hope I finish it…