Author: Orhan Pamuk
Title: The New Life
First Line: I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.
Isn't that a great first line? Orhan Pamuk's novel My Name is Red is one of my all-time favorite reads, so when I saw this book by Pamuk sitting on the 'P' shelf at the library, I couldn't resist checking it out. It begins with Osman, an engineering student, finding and reading a book that utterly transforms his view of the world, and opens his mind to the possibility of a new life. So much so, that he becomes obsessed with finding it.
"Not only had the book permeated my being like a secret or a sin, it had dragged me into the kind of speechlessness one experiences in dreams. Where were the kindred spirits with whom I could talk? Where was the country in which I'd find the dream that spoke to my heart? Where were those who had also read the book? Where? ... If only I could go on journeys, it seemed I'd reach the universe in the book. The glow of the new life I felt inside me existed in a faraway place, even in a land that was unattainable, but I sensed that as long as I was in motion, I was getting closer. I could at least leave my old life behind me."So begins his journey. He meets and falls in love with Janan, the girl who first showed him the book. Then he loses her. So he quits school and begins criss-crossing Turkey in random buses looking for her and this new life he hopes exists somewhere. But even when he finds Janan, his illusory journey goes on...and on.
I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't. In fact, I couldn't even finish it. Osman's odyssey was too introspective for me. Nothing much happens for a long time. After 60 pages, it started to feel like I was reading a surrealistic, overly-long soliloquy. And I just couldn't do it any more. I did skip ahead hoping it got better, but it didn't. This just wasn't the book for me. No serendipity from the 'P' shelf with this read. Oh, well. Maybe with the next one.