By Mary Anna Violi | MaryAnnaVioli
I’m trying. I really am trying to wade through Amor Towles’ second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow. His first novel’s protagonist annoyed me. The second novel’s protagonist is placed under house arrest in the Hotel Metropol, a hotel filled with intrigue. The premise sounded provocative, and I delved into the book. Multiple chapters into it, I put down the novel and picked up my trusty, well-read copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. After reading Amor’s The Rules of Civility, I re-read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I derived more literary satisfaction reading Fitzgerald and Hemingway than I did reading Towles’ novels.
Not that I expect another writer to measure up to the literary titans of yore. I respect and admire how Towles weaves layers upon layers of detail in his novels. His turn of phrase is admirable. It is simply that his main characters interest me not much. For me, intrigue in them wanes about half-way through the narrative. I press on, thinking perhaps the flame will arise again for me in what happens to the gentleman imprisoned in the Hotel Metropol. True, he is surrounded by eccentric, colorful characters creatively drawn. Would that they were the main event throughout.
The adulation heaped upon contemporary fiction never ceases to amaze. My literary hero for these times is Jami Attenberg. Her novel Saint Mazie is a literary gem. I will share my thoughts on the wonders of that novel soon. In the meantime, I’m reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, while continuing to pen my new novel series.
Ciao for now.