Okay, let’s talk about White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I’m not going to lie, at first it didn’t seem like it was going to be my cup of tea. Not that the story itself is uninteresting, but it took me awhile to get into the groove of it. One of those fun-to-read books that I would forget about as soon as I put it down for the day.
We begin the story with Archie, one of our main characters, locked in a car, trying to gas himself to death. Crazy stuff, and one would think that this would grab my attention right off, and it did – until I put it down. I can’t explain it, but the further I’ve read, the more engaged I’ve become, in a way that I simply wasn’t at the start. We’re dealing with marital conflicts, adultery, war, domestic abuse, unprotected teenaged sex, kidnapping, and a massive amount of racial undertones, so what’s not to be interested in, really? I’m pretty much hooked, now. Last night, I left my characters in an awful storm, which causes some pretty hefty damage, and I can’t wait to continue the story, again, today.
A passage that I particularly like reads:
For there were those who were quietly pleased that Alsana Iqbal, with her big house and her blacky-white friends and her husband who looked like Omar Sharif and her son who spoke like the Prince of Wales, was now living in doubt and uncertainty like the rest of them, learning to wear misery like old familiar silk. There was a certain satisfaction in it…Oh, there was a certain pleasure. And don’t ever underestimate people, don’t ever underestimate the pleasure they receive from viewing pain that is not their own, from delivering bad news, watching bombs fall on television, from listening to stifled sobs from the other end of the telephone line (177).
The previous passage is not only beautifully written, but it breaks my heart, how true it is. It reminded me of a quote that reads “Don’t tell your problems to people: eighty percent don’t care; and the other twenty percent are glad you have them” by Lou Holtz (who was a football coach – obvs, I’m not a huge football fan, but the quote is still relevant). How unfortunate is it that we lack compassion, so much, that we often find pleasure at the expense of others? No one wants to admit it, but I can completely agree with this. There is proof in every piece of gossip that someone has run to tell me and when I have done the same. We are awful to each other, at times, regardless of our good intentions. This quote makes me rethink every breakdown I’ve ever had in the midst of another human being. Ha! I was reaching for any writing utensil, in my vicinity, so I could underline it with all my might.
So far, I’m really loving our first read. I hope some of you will decide to join us in our journey through 100 novels! When I finish this sucker, I’ll give you my final verdict. Mike, over at One Mundane Life, will also have his opinion up soon, I imagine, so keep checking back! We officially have our next book picked out, so that will also be announced soon. Get excited.