Monday, 10 March 2008

The Kite Runner

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.


Artful Kisser said...

I have an aversion to books recommended ad nauseam by friends and the Kite Runner was one of those. Happy to take your recommendation and avoid it completely. Wondering if your interest in pony girl subsquently waned? I couldn't look a previously irresistible chap straight in the face when I read Atonement after he'd recommended it to me. Bleeergh...

Artful Kisser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perseus said...

Actually, my interest in her intensified because I thought, "If my only problem with her is her book taste, that's terrific."

You know, at least she reads books, and she's not an alcoholic, or violent, or miserable, or overwhelmed with social disorders and issues with her childhood... which are the usual types of women I for some reason end up dating.

Pony Girl is hot, well adjusted, happy and funny. Then again, because of this, she could do a lot better than me.

Perseus said...

Wait a sec... a guy recommeded Atonement?

Anonymous said...

I had a guy recommend Atonement to me too. I didn't read it though. I only like really trashy books - terry pratchett tom holt etc

Perseus said...

What pansies. Next thing you know these men will be urging people to read The English Patient, or, worse, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Masculinity is at peril here.

Mad Cat Lady said...

:D Out of curiousity - what would be a 'manly' book to recommend to a chick?

Perseus said...


'For Whom The Bell Tolls.'

Manly, but humanist, testosteronic* but not mysoginistic, tough, brave and sensitive, rugged, political and well-written.

A bloke recommeding Atonement is like a bloke recommeding going to an Elton John concert. Or a James Blunt CD.

*Is that a word?

squib said...

You should be grateful it wasn't The Time Traveller's Wife

Did you go to Readings in Carlton by any chance? If so you simply MUST look out for the second volume of Indigo. It's magnificent

Perseus said...

Nah, it was Readings in Hawthorn, and besides, I don't even know what the first volume of Indigo is. Never heard of it. Sounds like a 'literary periodical' to me - you know, the type you find at the bottom of piles in Brunswick Street cafes.

squib said...

I'm really really crushed now

Perseus said...

Oops. I was making that up. Turns out it's true. I apologise for heartlessness.


If it's any consolation, in those piles, they're above the Melbourne International Comedy Festival guides, and Socialist Weekly.

squib said...

Strangely, I find that very comforting, thank you Persey

The Book Grocer said...

That's an awesome review.

I'm off to read the rest of your blog now.

Continue the program.

Regards, etc.

Leilani said...

I hated The Kite Runner also and because I am a bit of an arsehole I like to point out how much I hate it to people who love it.

I was mad for this guy once and he gave me a copy of his favourite book - The Horse Whisperer! I was over him by page 5.

Perseus said...

The only reason a guy would be recommending The Horse Whisperer is to give fabricated evidence of his 'sensitive side' which in turn is a ploy to get sex. Good on him for trying, though.

I also like telling people how much I hated Kite Runner. I do the same thing with Titanic, Lord Of The Rings (both books and films) and Deadwood.

Leilani said...

As an obsessive NYPD fan I tried very hard to like Deadwood but when they fed that guy to the pigs I tuned out.

And you should never support a guy who uses bad literature to get a girl into bed.

Perseus said...

Deadwood was shit. The bad guys were too bad, and that main guy kept putting his head down and his eyes up like Princess Di. He must have thought it was 'acting'.

Go easy on Horse Whisperer Guy. Of course, it's a terrible method of getting a shag, but guys do weird things to get sex.

As mentioned in my review, I wore a hoody to impress Pony Girl From The Mallee Desert. A hoody! Me! It didn't work.

Then just the other week, I tried to pick-up Beautiful Beaumaris Girl Way Too Young For Me. I bought her entry, drinks, drugs, got her backstage to meet people and still no sex. She did, fortunately, have the good manners not to let any of the 7 young handsome virile men trying to pick her up backstage succeed. It was the next best thing to having sex with her - you know, her not having sex with anyone else.

But if I thought I could get her into bed by pretending to like the Sex & The City movie, I'd do it.

Because I'm a shallow idiot.