Yuck

WOLITZER - The Uncoupling

My immediate, I’m-trying-be-pithy-here thought upon finishing Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling (that novel that had someone on the internet compare the author to Jonathan Franzen, if only because that someone was miffed that Freedom was getting all the press!): “What did I just do to myself?”

The next thought that alit upon my addled brain: Everyone’ll be better off reading Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal instead. There are similar elements: A small and rather insular town, the heavy presence of the academe (one that makes it almost a character in itself), a school play mirroring the larger collective, and examinations of desire. But whereas Catton’s novel was an inebriating marvel—the risks it took with the prose, with the storytelling! and  how dare it just skewer desire!—Wolitzer’s is an unapologetically trite, uneasily moralistic parable about uninteresting people afflicted with a sudden, enchantment-induced abstinence. That is: Wolitzer’s the kind of book that, upon its conclusion, compels you to simply look out your window and tearfully reflect on how many hours you’d lost to a terrible, terribly mediocre book. (See Immediate Response #01).

I sat patiently up to the sixtieth page, growing more and more bored by the second—how many ways can you insist that two people love each other even if (gasp!) they’re in their forties, and that this magical sex-strike just ruined everything? how many lackluster, unworthy-of-book-space characters (armed with their sex-lives-that-were) are you going to introduce us to? And then I realized I was being a complete idiot and just skimmed to the end. Where, lo and behold, the townspeople arrive at epiphanies and voice them publicly, on stage!—and the spell lifts and people can start bonking each other again! (It’s not Disney, goddammit!) And don’t forget the mysterious nomad who’s been—wink to the reader!—doing this for years. Hurray for magical Greek plays! Goddamnitall.

I’m not even going to spend another minute on this book. I’m just going to lie down now, and try not to send this paperback stabby glances from across the room.

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2 comments

  1. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . Dont know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  2. I usually love Wolitzer but not this one. Just finished her new on, The Interestings, and she’s back in form.

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