April 2005 Archives
That's a wrap.
Thanks to everybody who participated!! I hope you enjoyed reading The Kite Runner. I was entirely engrossed in and moved by this story. I had a few problems with implausability...particularly the "reunion" scene with that nazi, Assef. But the drama was always so intense and the moral themes provoked a lot of thought and reflection
I found this review by Stephen Deusner at bookreporter.com and thought I would offer some excerpts from his harsh criticism as further food for thought. (I agree with some of it, but it never kept me from being satisfied with the story)
Despite Hosseini's occasionally absorbing evocation of Kabul, this first section has all the trappings of a typical American coming-of-age story, right down to the narrator's whiny self-incrimination and the air of funereal nostalgia. But THE KITE RUNNER isn't even an especially compelling coming-of-age story, and its adherence to a set of rules is unfortunate considering Hosseini's characterization of Afghans as "an independent people."
Peppering his rhythmless prose with awkward plot contrivances and nonliterary oversimplifications, Hosseini includes all the familiar plotlines and the archetypal characters of the coming-of-age story --- the distant father, the neighborhood bully, the oppressed minority who retains his honor and dignity. As a result, the first act never veers from the predictable and the tedious.
Full of keen observations and fine-tuned prose, the second act of THE KITE RUNNER succeeds where the first act fails, but Hosseini is unable to sustain that focus into the final section, which picks up with the fateful telephone call from the first chapter. As Amir traverses his home country and witnesses the horrors of the ruling Taliban, THE KITE RUNNER attains the spirited intensity of a taut espionage thriller, only without the predictability that the good guys will prevail. But a glaring plot contrivance stretches the novel's credibility, and the conclusion descends into undisguised sentiment, which is intended as cathartic but comes across as scripted and manipulative.
"I wonder if that was how forgiveness budded,
not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night." (The Kite Runner, Amir, pg 359)
What a great image of forgiveness! But is that how it really works...you just wake up one day and you've stopped being angry?
Baba betrayed both Amir and Hassan by denying them the truth. Amir betrays Hassan and, by consequence, Ali. Rahim Khan abets both betrayals. Yet Hassan and Ali - who are the victims in all this- seem very quick to forgive. Is that plausible? Seems like they were the ones "gathering their things, packing up and slipping away."
Is forgiveness a conscious act or is it simply the result of time dulling the wound? Is there a cultural/class/religious divide that makes Hassan and Ali so accepting of abuse, so willing to forgive?
"Nothing wrong with cowardice...
...as long as it comes with prudence." (Amir on pg 275) Courage and cowardice. Loyalty and betrayal. Honesty and deceit. Sin and redemption. The author of The Kite Runner has packed this story full of moral contrasts and ethical dilemmas which I am most anxious to explore.
Early on in the story, (since Mary is only up to pg 20) when Amir is in 5th grade, his father - Baba - instructs him that "...there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. .....There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir."
Well, pretty soon after, Amir witnesses some absolutely wretched evil inflicted upon his devoted pal/servant, Hassan. And he fails to defend Hassan - the guilt over which haunts him throughout his life. But is doing nothing a sin? Is cowardice a sin? If every sin is a variation of theft, what has Amir stolen from Hassan by running away?
Amir was a child himself. At what age are we held accountable? Had Amir bravely stepped forward to interfere- could he really have prevented the attack on Hassan anyway?
I have some strong opinions on all this - but I want to hear what you have to say. C'mon Danny - jump in here and get the ball rolling.
There's a way to be good again
We are 10 days away from this month's discussion of The Kite Runner. Everyone have their copy? I'm looking forward to Monday the 25th. So y'all get your tax returns over to the post office, and get reading. See you soon!