The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

This book was hard for me to get through, mostly because I could not relate to the main character.  Kemal Bey struck me as, first, an overgrown spoiled brat, and, later on, a pathetic pervert, and I saw Füsun as cold, calculating, and ruthlessly ambitious. 

The museum itself is made up of things that Kemal has collected over the years to bring him closer to Füsun.  Cigarette butts, matchboxes, salt shakers, and even the handle he took from the toilet of her childhood home.  To me, this is not romantic, nor an indication of great, timeless love, but shows an unhealthy obsession.  Imagine chewing on the eraser of a pencil and having an old boyfriend steal it, then, when alone, lying in bed, he rubs it slowly over his body.  This is one of the images I got from this book, and it was more than a little creepy.

All of Kemal’s rich friends were shallow and spoiled, but I still felt some sympathy for Sibel.  She turned me off with her rejection of Kemal’s gift because she was more interested in the ungenuineness of the thing instead of the genuineness and generosity of the giving of it, but she did not deserve to be treated that way.  The only truly interesting and wholly sympathetic character in the entire book was the city of Istanbul.  Its changes and fluctuations, its upheavals and diversity is the only thing that kept me reading.  That and the fact that the library system is still screwed up, so the chance that I might get other books before Christmas is slim.

There are a couple of other books by Pamuk that I’d considered reading, but, frankly, his writing style left something to be desired.  Though, to be fair, he must have done something right for me to feel this strongly about the book.  Nevertheless, I was quite bored for chapters on end.  If I’d had more than one or two books to read after it to hold me until Christmas, I would have dumped The Museum of Innocence.

Rating:  2 out of 5 stars


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