We finally caught back up with MOTEV who's been keeping a full reading list between her two reading groups and was, as always, eager to vent with us. For those of you new to MOTEV (Mother of The Elegant Variation), she's a former professor of German literature. It helps to imagine her pronouncements delivered with a Viennese accent.
TEV: Hey did you ever finish Enduring Love?
MOTEV: (exasperated) No. I just can't.
TEV: Why not?
MOTEV: I just can't get into it … It annoys me and I don't enjoy reading it. And I said, you know what? I don't enjoy this. So I stopped. I got maybe one-third through.
TEV: What did you hate about it?
TEV: That's specific and helpful.
MOTEV: OK. I don't like the characters. The characters so annoy me. The beginning, this whole balloon .. the whole scene is mondvacsinalt … (TEV Note: A Hungarian expression that eludes translation.)
TEV: Let me see if I can figure that out … "says what's it's doing"?
MOTEV: No. Well, it's pretentious. It's artificial. I just can't get into it. Nothing. Except chapter five where he talks about the narratives of science, that was interesting. For that I had to read 80 pages? (sighs) I'm probably missing something. He's some people's favorite author, the big cheese in contemporary literature, and I can't get friendly with him. He doesn't sound real to me. Everything is cerebral and not real.
TEV: Have you read anything else of his?
MOTEV: I read Amsterdam which I thought was witty in a macabre way. And Atonement.
TEV: What did you think of Atonement?
MOTEV: Too long, too verbose. I didn't think much of that either. Sorry. I can see I'm falling off my pedestal in great leaps and bounds.
TEV: (gasping) Not at all.
MOTEV: Not my writer for sure. Shirley Hazzard on the other hand in Transit of Venus – now that to me is writing.
TEV: You know I like her, too.
MOTEV: Writers where I feel that the word comes from within, not just from the typewriter.
TEV: So what's up next? Who dares mount the scaffold next?
MOTEV: (laughs) What are we doing this weekend? Oracle Night …
MOTEV: Yes. Another I feel he can write but he is, a what is he, a stylistic juggler –
TEV: - which you don't care for.
MOTEV: I don't know. I read all of that book. It didn't annoy me as much as Enduring Love did. And I also read that Dog at Midnight book …
TEV: Oh, The Curious Incident. And?
MOTEV: Charming, I like it. The language retains the mentality of the boy, doesn't want to be clever doesn't want to be, what, fireworks of words and whatnot . .. it is very honest and true sounding from the voice point of view.
TEV: Well I liked that book a lot.
MOTEV: (basta) So that's where it's at.
TEV: Thanks. And I have my next MOTEV column.
MOTEV: (pause) You're writing this down again?
TEV: Of course.
MOTEV: (sighs) Mark I will not be allowed into Barnes and Noble if you go on like this!
TEV: Thank you.
MOTEV: Mark, you are dangerous. I am going to stop talking to you on the phone. I'm putting your alleged father on the phone.