Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Most Meditative, Elegant Hostage-Takeover Novel Ever

By Meg Miller    |   Friday, January 30, 2015 - Off the Shelf

It’s a new year, a time for resolutions, and mine are as ambitious and unlikely to succeed as ever. Most of them involve perfecting methods of organization that will allow me to fit more work into tinier amounts of time. A year of lifehacks in which efficiency is key, every inch of 2015 will be used for something productive, each increment of time carefully charted out. My days will be like little bento boxes, with appropriately sized compartments for time spent working, swimming laps, writing, reading, yoga, movie-watching, and cooking (sleeping?).

Not even halfway into the month my resolve has already faltered; all it took was rereading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett to realize that life is not meant to be hacked. Set somewhere in South America at a birthday party hosted by the country’s vice president, Bel Canto is the most meditative, elegant, dreamlike hostage-takeover novel you will ever read. When terrorists break into the party and hold everyone for ransom, the worlds of captors and captives alike shrink to the size of the vice president’s living room and for weeks on end there is nothing but four walls and a seemingly endless expanse of time. As the days wear on, restless waiting and wanting become blissful time for reflection, for learning other languages, for listening to music, and for truly understanding and appreciating the others in the house, despite their differences.


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