Monday, April 17, 2006

The Red Tent

I am reading this novel right now - and I am VERY disturbed by the turn it takes 3/4 of the way through. It is as if someone other than the author took over her keyboard. It is not just the violence that happens and who commits it. It is the way that the events develop that lead up to the violence. They seem dreamed up. And of course, it is a novel, so it IS dreamed up. But my suspension of disbelief drops to the floor and crashes into a million bits at the point that Dinah basically throws away all of the social mores of her day, every tradition, everything she has been brought up to understand about the way things are between men and women, and goes off and f-cks some guys she has known for like 30 minutes. It is SO disturbing. I can't believe this novel is so well-received. It SUCKS. Nevertheless, I need to finish it in order to find out what happens at the end. Or I could just read the Bible, I suppose, since it's based on a story from the bible, or actually, a fragment of a story.

I am not pleased with this Red Tent.

Update: I have since read the Bible passage on which the Red Tent is based: Genesis, Chapter 35. And it only drives further home the idea that the author (Anita Diamant) really got lazy once she got to the part of her story that is actually covered in the Bible. She basically spits out what the Bible says. Whereas she devotes 3/4 of the book to stuff that she imagined in wonderful ways, she speeds through what amounts to a slightly expanded version of Chapter 35, adding not much more than one crucial detail: that Dinah love-love-loved the man with whom she slept (thus changing what seems possibly to be a rape into consensual sex). And it just doesn't add up. It just doesn't. It's a nice thought. I wish I could believe it. But the way it's written, it just doesn't add up. Maybe if Dinah had spent more time with the guy. But she hardly knew him at all. And she just willingly gave up her honor? I just don't see it.

At the Jewish sleepaway camp I went to as a kid, all of the age-groups were named after characters from the bible. One of the age-groups was called "Dinah" when I first started attending the camp. Of course, it was pronounced wrong by the campers and counselors alike - as in "Someone's in the kitchen with Die-nah" (it is actually pronounced "DEE-nah"). By the time I was old enough to be in the Dinah group, the name had been changed to Hadassah. The rumor was that parents complained about "Dinah" since Dinah was a fallen woman or possibly a rape victim. I was always sorry about that. I didn't care what her reputation was. I liked the name. My own Mom's middle name is Adena.

I feel like I'm rambling a bit incoherently about this. I guess what I am trying to say is that I appreciated the story-telling throughout most of the Red Tent. But once Diamant tried to do away with Dinah's "bad reputation", she went wrong. She should could have made it all more believable if she had expanded the love story between Dinah and her lover. Or she could have taken a totally different approach and explained what led Dinah to do something so totally out of character as sleeping with a man she didn't even know. Or she could have gone with the "rape" version of the story, which seems somewhat similar to the Luke and Laura storyline from General Hospital (boy meets girl, boy rapes girl, boy decides to make an honest man of himself by falling in love with and marrying girl).

Anyway, The Red Tent is an interesting but frustrating and ultimately disappointing read.

YC

2 comments:

Jody said...

I felt the same way about the Da vinci Code it was GREAT until a certain point then poof it sucked big time. I thought it might be that he got a movie deal or something while it wass still a manuscript then had to finish it really quickly.

yoga chickie said...

I agree about the Code as well. It was riveting. And THEN, suddenly, I felt as if the main character woke up and said, "Oh, good thing that was all a dream." It had that degree of letdown to it. Ya know?

Lauren

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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