The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
If you know me and what I do then you should be able to guess why this book caught my attention on the stand at Target. If not, well it's a numbers thing...
When I saw that Paolo Giordano was the youngest writer ever to win the Primo Strega award I thought it sounded pretty impressive! I don't know Italian but "Primo" I know has to do with the best of the best. As it turns out the Primo Strega is quite the accomplishment, it's the most prestigious Italian literary award. Then, when I saw that this book sold more than a million copies in Italy I thought it must be worth reading.
...and why not broaden my horizons with a little foreign literature... (the last time I did this it turned out poorly with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.)
I am not really sure what I was expecting from this book, but I really should have guessed at how depressing it would be. When you write about how two people are like prime numbers, solitary and alone, and how they got this way it is bound to be dreary. I kept reading, waiting for the characters to expose some endearing trait or action, but I was left with two really messed up people (and for good reason), who's personalities were less than enjoyable. One bossy, manipulative, and selfish, the other disengaged in life, only brought back to some form of reality by inflicting his own pain.
Then there is the writing... I cannot deny that Paolo is highly intelligent and has a way with words. They flowed freely and yet rhythmically, which is a feat accredited to either Paolo or the translator since the book was originally written in Italian. The only problem I had was at times it felt forced, like he was trying too hard.
I can't be too hard on the book because I do think it was well written, I think my dislike comes from the constant dreary tone and lack of feeling any emotion while reading. It has more to do with me as a reader than Paolo as a writer... I like books to evoke emotion, I like to be brought to tears or to the edge of anxiety, I like to laugh, I like to feel the heart ache and excitement. I want to connect with characters, so that I miss them when the book is over.... but in the end I want to have resolution, a feeling that I have accompanied the characters through some sort of change, be it good or bad. And this book just didn't do any of that for me.
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