Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

More about Joshua Henkin's Matrimony

OK, now I've actually read Joshua Henkin's new novel, Matrimony. I'm not going to write a review, at least at the moment, but here are some initial thoughts:

- Oh, no! It starts out with 2 students in a college creative writing class. When I was editor of White Crow (maybe I am still the editor?), one of my rules was to toss out any poem that was about writing poetry, or any story about a writer. It always seems like such navel-gazing, and frankly, writing is about as dynamic an activity to read about as accounting. I did a halfway decent job of suspending my internal editor, and I enjoyed the fictional fiction workshop in spite of myself.

- Ann Arbor is the setting for a large part of the book. There was a barrage of street names, and I could draw you a map showing every one except for Fountain, which I could get you to, but couldn't give you precise directions to. Out of all the local businesses that were named-checked, Red Hot Lovers was revisited several times, which made me long for my favorite chili cheese fries in the whole wide world.

- The copy editor in me couldn't help but notice that the Diag was capitalized in its first mention, but lowercased ("the diag") in its second mention.

- One of the characters puts red backgammon pieces all over his chest and says, "I'm a pepperoni pizza!" I thought this was really funny, not least of which because I have a hard time imagining Josh, who strikes me as a pretty serious (though good-humored) fellow, coming up with such random silliness.

- The same character, Julian, comes from a very wealthy family. Yet, while at college he befriends a Korean grocer who sends him back to campus with a bag of free fruits and vegetables. I'm trying to pin down what I think that says about Julian, and his understanding of his own wealth and privilege, which is an important aspect of the novel. Is he graciously accepting a gift when it would be an insult to their friendship if he insisted on paying for it? Or is he oblivious to the fact that the grocer is working hard to make a living, while he floats through school on his daddy's dime? What does it say that he's befriended the Korean grocer at all?

I'll probably blather on about the book later on, but now that I've finished reading it I should really be spending my free time studying for my mid-term exam on Wednesday.
Tags: books

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