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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • August 31, 2006

     

    [56] White Teeth - Zadie Smith

    Painstakingly funny and stippled with serious, provocative, and biting prose, White Teeth ponders at a quasi midlife crisis that roots in the conflict between preserving one's cultural legacy and conforming to the mainstream society. The narrative begins in the 1970s England and oscillates in both chronological directions. 47-years-old Archibald Jones contemplates suicide after his marriage of 30 years collapsed. After the futile effort to take his life he quickly marries a 19-years-old Jehovah Witness-reared Jamaican girl Clara. From this odd, loveless inter-racial second marriage spin a tapestry of domestic farce, dyfunctional family drama, and an unswerving determination to fight against conforming to the "English" (aka white) society that ubiquitously divests their cultural roots.

    Jones' best friend Samad Iqbal, whom he befriended during World War II in a tank, strives to convince his wife Alsana that sending one of their twins back to the native Bengal is conducive to preserving the tradition and root which are the untainted principles. The fact that his favorite twin Magid wants to be called Mark Smith when he is around the white boys in the neighborhood unnerves him. He thinks his son (and so his family) is on the brink of being white-washed and driven away from Allah, who has premeditated life and fate. To Samad, who is a hyprocrite himself having an affair with his son's music teacher, assimilation is no more than plain downright corruption, which has contaminated his other twin Millat.

    The domestic tension aroused in White Teeth can be traced back to an innocent origin of a parent's concern: What kind of world (environment) do you want your children to grow up in? Samad's concern transcends safety--he paves the path, makes future decisions, and strives at all expense to thwart the pervasion of Englishness. While immigrants want to fit in and not to be treated as foreigners or some second-class citizens, Samad's generation--one that is split by geography and language--inevitably find their children growing up to be complete strangers who are oblivious to the traditional customs. This subtle conflict manifests in almost every line of the dialogues and penetrates conversation at the dinner table.

    Despite all the mixing up, despite the fact that we have finally slipped into each others' lives, despite the fact that the GAP includes black and Asian models in the commercials, with reasonable comfort, it is still difficult to resist the urge to conform and to assimilate. White Teeth audaciously captures this urgent desire to right the society, and at the same time delivers a sense of qualm of the Second Coming, cloning, recombinant DNA technology, genetic engineering. Afterall White Teeth is a magnifying glass of the clash between traditional values and new ideas.

    5 Comments:

    Blogger matty said...

    Yes, but have you started reading "The Importance of Being Barbra"??? LOL!

    No, this sounds quite interesting. I saw that book recently.

    I am currently working my way thru "Rose of No Man's Land" by Michelle Tea and "Pulling Taffy" by Matt Sycamore (sp?) ---- both are great writers but there is something missing in each of these volumes. I can't quite put my mental finger on it, tho.

    I have 6 other books waiting but I am cutting down to two books at a time for now.

    9/01/2006 9:17 AM  
    Anonymous Danielle said...

    I really need to read this. I have had it for ages. Her new one doesn't appeal to me, but this one sounds good!

    9/01/2006 10:26 AM  
    Anonymous Bill said...

    Hey, Matthew...

    Thanks for your phone call and message the other day. I've been working on a few last articles for this Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. The deadline was yesterday, but I'm afraid I'll need to squeeze another couple days out of the exercise.

    Anyway, today I'm visiting friends in San Jose. I need the sunshine. But I'm back tomorrow and will give you a call then.

    Let's hang out.

    hugs--Bill

    9/02/2006 7:41 PM  
    Blogger * said...

    super read - here's my two pence --


    this book opens up a can of characters..

    who each fascinates in its scrambling attempts to survive - base instinctive clawing, white teeth gritting, desperate race to flee of its own shadow. and while you are chasing these lurid characters trying to keep up with their individual streaks, from one to the other to the other, unable to look away, there is something else going on in the spaces between the lines.. more..

    12/18/2006 2:03 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I always wanted to have whiter teeth...

    10/13/2007 9:56 AM  

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