Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Raymond and Hannah

I picked up Stephen Marche's debut novel, Raymond and Hannah in my second to last binge buy on Chapters.Indigo. It was $2 and even though I had already made up the $39 to qualify for the free shipping, I thought, why not? It's set in Toronto and I like reading about my hometown.

It was a quick read about a boy named Raymond and a girl named Hannah who have a one-night stand which turns into a one-week affair just before she flies off to Israel for a 9 month course at a yeshiva.

Paragraphs like this are exactly why I like reading about Toronto:

Built in the mid-sixties and reportedly a cause of several of its architects' suicides, the Robarts Library building is a grotesquerie parodying scholarship: it supposedly imitates a peacock (with a hundred vigilant eyes) but looks more like a turkey. Raymond's routine is formed by this architecture, the elevator down to the Fisher basement for his research into rare books and first editions, the narrow escalator up to the fourth floor for journal articles, the reading room where if he keeps shifting he can always find the perfect quantity of light in the afternoon. A false but persistent legend claims that the architects failed to take into account the weight of the books, and so the library is slowly sinking into the ground.

Now, I remember hearing about how Robarts looked like a peacock/turkey but could never see it until last summer, when I happened to be walking north, rather than my usual southerly direction down St. George. And the thing about the sinking library? I remember hearing the same rumour about Dana Porter Library, the Arts library at my alma mater, University of Waterloo, so I'm sure that myth must be weaved into every university's story.

The ending was ambiguous...not sure how I feel about that, not to say that every story should have a neat and tidy ending...but it seemed like a cop-out to me given how the plot unfolded.

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