Sunday, January 16, 2011
The Finkler Question - Howard Jacobsen
I think I've just been a bad mood lately or something because nothing that I've been reading has quite bit sitting well with me. I'm finding myself irritated by characters, unable to focus on the plot of a given story, and generally feeling bored. I certainly hope this is not reading burn-out and that I just need to find the right book to re-ignite myself! I have noted before that I don't have the best luck with Booker Prize Winners, but every year I do find myself wanting to give the winner a shot, and so that's how I found myself picking this one up. The Finkler Question tells the story of three old acquaintances: Julian Treslove (a celebrity double strangely obsessed with Judaism), Sam Finkler (Julian's rival and anti-Zionist scholar), and Libor Zevcik (their elderly professor). After the death of Finkler and Zevcik's wives, Treslove is mugged in what he believes to be an anti-Semitic-motivated attack. The assault causes Treslove to question everything about his own identity, as he examines his life, his former and current loves, and what it means to be or not to be Jewish in today's world. While I found much of the friendship and interaction among the three men interesting, Treslove as a main character was so obsessive and tedious that about half-way through the book I simply could not stand his musings anymore. He was so self-obsessed - and had no ability for self-reflection - despite his friends and family members being pretty blunt with him about his short-comings. Again, as with most of the Booker winners, while I did appreciate the writing, I just couldn't get into the story.