Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Fame, By Daniel Kehlmann

The Premise:
A novel in nine parts, Fame explores what it means to be famous, encounter fame or have a passing interest in it.

The Good:
Much like Sherwood Anderson’s, Winesburg, Ohio, Fame is a collection of short stories that can stand alone or hang together. Kehlmann brings in reoccurring characters in unexpected ways and develops rich personalities with, for the most part, real emotion that result in real consequence. Even the chapters that don’t work that well are still inventive and unpredictable. Also interesting is the fact that he writes from an Austrian perspective—you would think “Fame” would be more of a wholly ownable American conceit. I could tell you more, but that would ruin the fun. Plus, at a breezy 175 pages, it’s a quick read regardless*.

The Bad:
Kehlmann is a versatile writer who can and does shift voices and genres. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a few of the chapters were forced and seemed to go on a bit too long for my tastes.

The Verdict:
Read it. It’s too soon to tell if this will be a book that sticks with me or not, but I appreciate the premise and the depth to which he explores it.

*Honestly, it’s why I was willing to give it a chance. That and back cover used the word "prodigy".