By Khaled Hosseini
See, I met a girl. She’s from the Mallee Desert and I fell hopelessly in love – I couldn’t control it. It seemed, and time will tell if I’m right (and time will tell if I am wrong) that I had never fallen so quickly or so vehemently over a chick in my whole life.
Here’s why I fell in love.
• She ordered us a gin and tonic each. When I went to take my first sip she reached over the table, grabbed the straw out of my glass, threw it to the ground and said, “You’re a man. I’m not letting you drink out of a straw.”
• As a young girl, living in the Mallee desert, she always wanted a pony. When she finally got one she hated its guts.
• She came to my house. I tried to dress down for once. I wanted to look less like a lapsing goth and more like a man, so I put on a hoody. She walked in and said, “How long have you been wearing hoodys for? Are you wearing that for me?”
• Great legs.
My love even spiralled, exponentially... oh I give up normally. You know those guys that when they set their sights on a woman they keep trying? I’m not one of them. But then I became one of them. Foreign territory. And in the haze of drugs and alcohol out with her one night she recommended this book.
I don’t do best-sellers.
But I was in love.
I bought it at Readings but also bought some highbrow DVD’s and Nick Cave’s latest album just so I came across as the artistic elitist non-hoody wearing lapsing Goth that I truly am.
“Oh yes,” I said to the Readings clerk, “I want a bag.”
I may have liked this book if it was true. But it’s not. It’s FICTION, and it is incredibly formulaic and convenient fiction. If there was a truly accurate word power rating machine it would give this book a rating of 12 – for 12 year olds. It’s written in baby-speak. The story is one cliché loaded upon another and fair dinkum, you could program a computer to write this book. I read its 340 pages in just a few hours (only three sittings) because it is, in literary terms, like a fucking Big Mac. It’s big but it goes down very quickly and you feel cheated afterwards.
There are about 15 twists in the book – though 'twist' may be too strong a word; 'plot development' is more apt – and every single fucking one of them is a cliché. Every character is a caricature. It is Days Of Our Lives: Kabul. The noblest character in the book is too noble to be real, and the evil character is just Darth Vader in a turban. The main character is a cry-baby sook, a bore, a non-sexual two-dimensional cliché-ridden nuff-nuff with as much beguilement as a kitchen tap.
The most insidious habit Hosseini employs is a reminisce of earlier chapters. It’s filler, like pickles in your Big Mac. It’s like he decided that he needed to ‘pad’ some sections out and so he did so by giving us a rundown of what we’ve already read (like what the 7pm ABC news does at about 7:15pm every night). Here, I’ll do the same to fill out this review.
“I sat down, lit a cigarette and sipped a water. I remembered reviewing a Colette book. I remembered strongly the time that I gave an Andre Morton book a rating of D Minus. I remembered when I called Hosseini, the writer of The Kite Runner, a nuff-nuff.”
Except he can drag these reminisces for about a page at a time.
This is what I have learnt from reading The Kite Runner:
1. That I was right to avoid best-sellers
2. That reading a book recommended to you by a woman you love is polite, nice and even a little flattering, but it is not seductive. To seduce a woman, you need to spend less time reading their books, and more time, you know, seducing them. Particularly ones that get given ponies and then hate them. It’s a metaphor. Though she recommended the book to me, she will begrudge me for reading it. I ain’t going to be sending this blog link to her, that’s for sure.
These are valuable lessons, and thanks to The Kite Runner I have learnt them. I give it a D.