Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Review of Rabih Alameddine's Koolaids

Man, this writer is pretentious.

Koolaids focuses on two events mainly in the 1980's. The first is the AIDS crisis, and the second is the civil war in Lebanon. The book has no real plot, nor is the writing all that great. But surprisingly I did not hate it.

The writing is odd. There are no chapters, just short sections. There is a lot of self-reference for self-reference's sake. There are these interludes that have little point but to try to be artsy, and add nothing either to the writing or to the plot.

The cover has no art, but a lengthy quote from Amy Tan which is about as full of oneself as can get. It is a bit pathetic.

The plot itself was just this gay guy who is a successful Lebanese painter/homosexual ex-pat in the US. He laments about how screwed up his home country is. Mostly he blames the Israelis, for all the bad things in the civil war (somehow) but there is plenty of blame heaped on the Americans, the Christians, and the Syrians. Just about the only group who is not blamed is the Palestinians/Moslems. (The origin of the narrator should not surprise you.)

The book seems again, very self-referentially autobiographical. There is a lot about love and loss, and loss to AIDS and questioning about the meaning of life and loss and death. Nothing deep.

It is an interesting perspective both on the AIDS crisis and the Lebanese civil war. The perspective is very Lebanese, and very homosexual (to the extent either of those two groups, qua groups, have a unique perspective). Its main virtue, I suppose is that it was a quick and non-painful read about AIDS and Lebanon for those interested.

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