notes on reading (snow by orhan pamuk)


i thought i was the only one.  that for some reason, some faulty faculty, ineptitude, imbalance of neurons, lack of education, that for some reason i could not finish orhan pamuk’s “snow”.  i tried.  i really did.  and if asked, i would have claimed that i did finish it, after all i came within 100 pages of plowing through the snows of kars.

there were times while i was digging my way through the drifts and layers of snow, that i found myself going backwards more than moving forward.  i would read, and then re-read, not because it was difficult to understand the translation, but that i thought there might have been something i missed.  he was, after all, a nobel laureate in literature, surely there was something there.

but finally, i found out that i was not alone.  reading elif batuman’s letter from turkey in the october 24th “new yorker” (are you cringing at my use of italics and quotation marks for titles and proper nouns yet?  you should be.  i’ve never been able to keep those grammatical rules straight, so i beg your forgiveness or at the least, your understanding), anyway, i was reading this article last night and she had been to kars (a town in turkey close to the armenian border and where much of pamuk’s snow is set–or fallen) and she wrote:

“Pamuk, unlike Pushkin, was not a formative writer for me.  For many years, I even thought that, despite being a writer of Turkish descent, I might live my whole life without reading any of his novels.  My first inkling that this would not be possible came in 2008, when I was interviewed for the first time by a Turkish newspaper.  The interview was about the band Vampire Weekend, bu the reporter still required my opinion on Turkey’s only Nobelist.  My answer appeared as a subhead, in all caps: “I WAS UNALBE TO FINISH PAMUK.”

“In subsequent interviews, I was asked not only about Pamuk, but about my inability to finish Pamuk.  “You know, everyone always asks about this,” I told one journalist this spring. “Why don’t we talk about something else?”

“I’ll tell you why,” she said.  “None of us can finish Pamuk, but you’re the only one who says so openly.”

you can only imagine the relief that washed over me!  how could anyone expect me to finish pamuk, if his countrymen cannot?  i confidently placed snow on a top shelf of my closet and pulled the door shut without an ounce of regret.


1 Response to “notes on reading (snow by orhan pamuk)”

  1. November 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Robert…I’m relieved to find someone else not afraid to admit the fact that some literature does not grip us.
    Your writing, however, lures me to the last punctuation mark, and often, I’m dissappointed the journey has ended so soon.

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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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