September 6, 2009

The Colossus of New York
Colson Whitehead

Manhattan Mystery – I found this to be a forgettable book about an unforgettable city. But how can that be? After all, Colson Whitehead is an accomplished writer. Author of several books, he is a recipient of the Whiting Award as well as a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Perhaps the subject (let’s face it: he shows the courage to tackle New York City) is just too large to capture on any sized canvas. But I think my disappointment is centered upon the book’s style with its shifting points of view, generalized rather than individualized characters, and an overall approach designed to provide a wide-angled survey rather than a spot-lit focus on concrete specifics. That means I came to this book expecting a very different book – and so: is that a critique of Whitehead’s writing or of my reading?


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