friedalighthouse, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by friedalighthouse)
I usually love Orhan Pamuk's books, but this was a long slog with no payback. As usual, his portrayal of Turkey and its society is vivid and tangible. But you spend the whole book locked inside the protagonist's head dealing with his obsession with a woman. Nothing good comes of it, either for him or for us.
K Magill, February 27, 2011 (view all comments by K Magill)
Persistence pays off; for the first 500 pages, I was not convinced that this was Pamuk's finest work, but the last soaringly tragic chapters convinced me otherwise. Although the meandering melancholy of the narrator, a lovesick thirty-something from Turkey's upper crust, may at first come off as self-indulgent, Orhan Pamuk is too skilled to craft a simple sad tale of obsession gone awry. In The Museum of Innocence, Pamuk mines deep into every vein of obsession, love, lust, infidelity and fidelity that he can find--in the end, turning on their heads our common notions of virtue, success, and life well lived. Reading, I couldn't help but recall some lines by Sam Beam on the newest Iron & Wine album: "We bricked up the garden and oh, what it means,/ and we've all kissed a virgin as if she were clean."
Moreover, Pamuk's ability to bring myriad minute details together into a moving whole is staggering. Not only is this a story of romance between human beings, but of the romance which grows between people and inanimate things. I go through my days now reflecting on the everyday objects that shape me, each one a defining piece of who I am. Pamuk has subtly shifted the way I think about materialism. More Iron & Wine: "I saw strangers stealing kisses,/ leaving only their clothes, only their clothes."
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
vautrin, January 16, 2011 (view all comments by vautrin)
Infused with his particular brand of postmodernism, The Museum of Innocence is Pamuk's melancholic story of love and obsession. Kemal's obsession with his lower-class cousin Füsun takes over his life, to the point where his only refuge, aside from the nights spent visiting his cousin and his parents, is the eponymous museum created out of the collection of knick-knacks, ticket stubs and other miscellany connected with Füsun that he secreted over the course of the novel. Pamuk cleverly creates this museum via sides throughout the novel, as if the narrative were an epic tour of Kemal's collection. Through the creation of the museum, Pamuk is able to create a love story both beautiful and sad while reflecting a segment of a culture and society through its cumulative detritus. Pamuk has been working on establishing his own museum in Istanbul; hopefully his project comes to fruition.
by Marie Arana, The Washington Post,
"A deeply human and humane story. Masterfully translated, spellbindingly told, it is resounding confirmation that Orhan Pamuk is one of the great novelists of his generation. With this book, he literally puts love into our hands."
It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal and Sibel, children of two prominent families, are about to become engaged. But when Kemal encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation, he becomes enthralled. And once they violate the code of virginity, a rift begins to open between Kemal and the world of the Westernized Istanbul bourgeoisie. In his pursuit of Füsun over the next eight years, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress—amassing a museum that is both a map of a society and of his heart. Orhan Pamuk’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize is a stirring exploration of the nature of romance.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.