After my three missing Murakami months, my latest literary voyage has been a little lighter and far more full of froth.
Figuring that I deserved a break – after such a marathon – I was delighted to find (!) the latest Marina Lewycka on my shelf, and decided that a touch of humour and a very attractive front cover exactly met my need.
Lewycka’s first two novels – ‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ and ‘Two Caravans’ – got my nod of approval. They weren’t the kind of books I normally go for, but I fell in love with the colourful characters and their warmth; and I was struck by the unusual mixture of laughing – and learning – that went on. I enjoyed the interplay between cultures, and characters, and history, cleverly blended with a dash of the slapstick, and an interesting take on the English language that kept me engaged and amused –
‘We Are All Made Of Glue’ didn’t quite hit the mark. I laughed (a little) and formed a few (fragile) connections to the characters; but the message – aka the title – was slightly too over-powering and the emphasis made the story seem quite trite.
We are made of glue. We fall apart. We come together. We stick to other people. We get unstuck. That kind of thing.
True, there were some interesting facts about displaced Jews in the Second World War and a clash of cultures that is still relevant today. And yes, there was a cast of slightly eccentric louder–than-life characters, with an array of accents and the potential for a few comical scenes –
But it didn’t quite gel. Which is somewhat ironic.
Written in a first person narrative, ‘We Are All Made of Glue’ is the story of Georgie Sinclair, a middle-age-ish woman who is going through a bit of a rough patch. Recently separated from her husband, her life appears to have lost structure and direction – and therefore takes some unusual turns. Befriended by an elderly, slightly unhinged, and often quite repulsive neighbour, known as Naomi Shapiro, Georgie gets pulled into a squabble over a coveted mansion; various entanglements with estate agents and social workers; a re-visiting of Jewish and Palestinian conflicts; the piecing together of Mrs Shapiro’s history; online Armageddon; repairing her own broken marriage and breaking children….
It’s clear where the glue and adhesive bit comes in. It just felt a little bit too much.
Anyway, I don’t imagine that Lewycka is meant to be taken all that seriously; and it wasn’t all bad as I made it to the end. Moreover, a few kind of funny images are still lingering on the sidelines (PVC windows on a rambling mansion in the heart of Islington; a middle aged woman strapped to the bed with furry handcuffs when her son returns home – that kind of thing); and the warmth with which Lewycka writes about people and relationships did, at least, remain intact –
It’s just a shame that some of the other bits stuck.
Tags: reading the world