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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 51.0° F  Fair
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A Book A Week: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Is it just me? Why do I dislike books that so many other people love? This is going to turn into one of those deals where everyone asks me if I liked such-and-such a book, and I have to say "nooooo..." and then justify my response to their astonished looks. Like Atonement. Like The Corrections. And now, The Marriage Plot.

I suppose I should describe the plot: Mitchell, Madeleine and Lawrence graduate from Brown University. Mitchell loves Madeleine, Madeleine loves Lawrence, and Lawrence has bipolar disorder. Madeleine and Lawrence set up housekeeping together over the summer while Mitchell wanders around Europe and India. Madeleine is directionless (and boring), Mitchell is lonely (also boring), and Lawrence is hospitalized. That about sums it all up.

English majors might like this book because it will make them feel good about all the useless stuff they know. I don't frequently come across references to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubarin in my day-to-day reading, and I enjoyed those aha moments. There's also a lot of showing off about semiotics and Roland Barthes. What is the point of this in popular fiction (or, to use Barthes' own words "readerly text")? Many readers (most readers?) won't get these allusions. Is it meta? Or is it ironic?

Who cares? It's just boring.

Becky Holmes blogs about books at A Book A Week.

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