Monday, August 16, 2004

A Book Becomes a Comma Like That

I finished reading A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That by Lisa Glatt Friday night during the Parade of Nations at the Olympics. I turned down the sound on the TV because I couldn't bear to hear Katie Couric and Bob Costas for one second longer. This was satisfying all around. It relieved the boredom of watching country after country walk into the stadium and it made the book more interesting too since I wasn't so focused on it. If you think that doesn't sound like an enthusiastic opinion of the book or the opening ceremonies, you've got it right. A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That is well written. And I like the idea that a person, a girl, could become a comma, a punctuation mark that is the slightest of pauses on it's way to something more important like a period or an exclamation point. But when it came down to the actual story, to the plot, to the character, I didn't like it so much. Maybe part of it is because I'm 36 and Rachel, the protagonist, is 30. Maybe it had something to do with the way Rachel and several other characters use sex to obliterate themselves and their problems. Maybe it was Rachel's mother's slow death from cancer as the main guiding arch of the novel. Or maybe it was Rachel's constant need to be mothered by her mother that got to me. I lost count of how many time I wanted to slap Rachel and yell at her, "You're 30 for God's sake! Grow up!" Or maybe it was the occasional point of view change chapter to another character. These other characters' stories went nowhere, they were just a slice, one more example of how a girl could become a comma like that. Of course it could also have been the unsatisfying ending. Or maybe it was Katie Couric. Or Bob Costas. The slow accumulation of things I didn't like ended up as a sizable heap. It is too bad too because I began the book with high hopes. I had heard good things about it. But having read it, I wouldn't recommend it.