Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Kite Runner

I finally got around to reading The Kite Runner by Khalid Housseini. Pretty good! Some thoughts:
  • Housseini's character development is captivating. For example, I loved how our understanding of Baba is evolved through Amir's eyes. Although Baba's character itself is constant, he is unfolded to us with increasing multi-dimensionality as Amir ages from child, to petulant teen, to wounded adult, etc. Meanwhile, Amir's character is drawn as nakedly, painfully flawed... more so than most literary protagonists we're asked to invest ourselves in. I suppose my discomfort with Amir's childish character might have been an uncomfortable suspicion of similarity to my own. Not sure if that was Housseini's intent or if it's just me. :-)
  • Through Baba and Amir, Housseini gifts us with a very honest portrayal of the parent-child relationship archetype, which is to say that for most of our lives our parents exist to us as reflections of our ourselves, our needs, our flaws, etc. It's only through our own growing self-awareness that we're able to finally separate them from ourselves. At what point in our lives this happens will vary but I think it probably occurs well into our adulthood. It only truly happened for me when I was in my mid-30's... happily, gratefully, thankfully before my dad died.
  • I thought Amir's adult encounter with Assef and subsequent lip scar was strangely contrived (yes, Hassan had a hair lip, we get it). Was it really necessary to use use such an extreme plot device to propel the character development of Amir? I almost had the feeling of having read two separate books, so jarring was the last quarter of the book juxtaposed against the haunting, lovingly crafted prose of the first three.
  • Time to get a little political here (but you knew I would, right?). I found it strange that the book completely ignores America's interest in Afghanistan during the time period. It soundly and rightfully thrashes the Soviets and the monster Taliban but makes no mention of our role in funding and training the "freedom fighting" mujahadeen (some, including Robert Gates in his book, "From the Shadows," say we started doing so least six months prior to the Soviet invasion). As far as unintended consequences go, this one was a doozy: the mujahadeen spawned both Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. I'm not saying this needed to be central to the story but perhaps an acknowledgement, at least. As it is, I found the complete omission odd since Baba and Amir eventually flee Afghanistan to settle, gratefully, in America.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Simone,
Glad you liked the Kite Runner.
On the last part you talked about, the political, my thoughts were that the author was seeing the war as through the eyes of a civilion. Yes, the Americans were there in the shadows pulling strings but most people only saw Russian tanks pull up in their citys and streets, most only saw Russians killing citizens though that time period now today might be different. In his new book " A Thousand Splendis Suns" he writes even more about the Russian aggression and cruelties. My opinion of the part where he goes back and meets up with the bullies of his past, is like his paying for the sins of his past transgressions. He let someone else take the beat downs for him as a child and it was time to take the beat down himself to clean his soul. All in all it was a good book and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.
Thank you for the Christmas Card, that was very nice of you. I'm leaving in the morning to go to Houston and hang out with the family for a week or so, so Merry Christmas to y'all. Hope Santa brings you what you want and not some Republican strip mined new energy coal for Christmas. LOL Merry Christmas Nobles and Welters. Talk to you soon.

Matthew

6:09 PM, December 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On your last post about the political. No one cares what the americans did. its not like they did anything effective. america pretty much things worse not only in afghanistan but in iraq too.

1:58 PM, January 03, 2011  

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