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“The Problem of Being Sort of Himself”

February 9, 2009

aloftIt is a bad week for being a 60-something male on this blog.

In 2009, I’m making a concerted effort to read more, and my target 50 books over the course of the year, but this goal has created a perplexing decision to make as I worked my way through Chang-rae Lee’s Aloft. It looked interesting, well-received, and notable in the DC Public Library, and probably it’s still all these things. But I’m nearly 200 pages in and I can’t possibly bring myself to care. The story follows second generation landscaper Jerry Battle as he flies into the later half of his life (Literally. He is an amateur pilot.) But can’t be a mid-life crisis because he’s way past that. Things are happening, in theory, to Jerry. So far his daughter is pregnant, but also has cancer, his son is ruining the family business, and his long-term girlfriend won’t take him back. Somehow, none of this is compelling, although the psychological insights are at least insightful (but a little too well formed for this character).

There are so many books in the world, so many books that I could easily not put down and be up half the night reading. I cannot stand by and slog through another near 200 pages if this is what I’ve gotten so far. Mr. Rae, you are excellent with prose, your characters are believable, but I just can’t do it.

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