Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chance Meetings

Book: Chance Meetings
Author: William Saroyan
Edition: GK Hall, 1978
Read: Sept 2008
174 pages
Rated: 2
out of 5

When you read a Pulitzer Prize winning author and you say the book does not make sense, you wonder about your tastes, you wonder what you are missing, why you are not picking up on what the author is saying? As it turns out my book group had about the same thoughts as I did.

What is the book about? A series of memories by Saroyan, both of friends and acquaintances. Those who Saroyan enjoyed and those who he could do without. About how friendship changes as fame grows.

This book had great potential. The title, Chance Meetings, gives you a want to see meaning in each of the meetings view. If there is any meaning from this book, it is lost on me. The stories appear to be of random memories with no central thrust. Is this book like a John Cage symphony? Some thing to be endured because it represents our world? Or is it more like a verbal wanderings of an elderly man?

Even within the short stories, there are possibilities which do not hit the mark. The first section ends with an intriguing line “He can neither choose his parents nor choose not to be drafted into the Army….” But the thought is not advanced. Instead he talks about everybody has a favorite person and that should be himself. That is as far as he takes the thought.

The whole book shows a potential for depth, but then he pulls up short. Saroyan does not delve the depths, but moved onto his next story? Why? Does Saroyan want us to see something else? There is no pattern in our relationships? Only chance meetings? Nothing to tie our lives together? Or was Saroyan just being lazy or lost his abilities when he wrote this book?

Like Saroyan, I will leave this question to ponder, but probably without an answer.

Notes from my book group:
Basic comments included:
- - Slow book
- - Lack of meaning
- - Good cultural view

1 comment:

Sharon Dolly Edmon said...

This is useful! " Everybody has a favourite person and that should be himself. That is as far as he takes the thought." I loved this interpretation.