The book Asymmetry by the new author Lisa Halliday evoked many mixed emotions. I couldn’t say I really liked the book neither can I say that it was terrible.
The book started off really well with Mary-Alice, a young editor, sitting at a park bench beside a supposedly popular writer. His identity is hidden for the first ten pages. However, when the “famous writer” Ezra Blazer’s name is thrown randomly in the middle of the story, it makes you wonder why was his identity hidden if he was going to be introduced so lamely.
The absurd relation between the aged writer, Ezra and Mary-Alice can sometimes be uncomfortable to read when the author writes so crassly about their intimate moments like when Alice asks Ezra over a phone call if he wants to meet for a “Fucky Fuck?”. Some parts in the book just lack refinement, there is a paragraph on farts, a random woman retching in the subway, and many such weird inclusions that are absolutely unnecessary.
Asymmetry includes three parts: Folly, Madness, and Ezra Blazer’s Desert Island Discs.
Folly is mostly about the confused relation between Ezra and Alice. Madness gives an insight about the Iraq war and the daily struggles of Iraqis. The last part in the book is an elaborate interview of Ezra Blazer who discusses his personal life, his experiences and interests.
There are certain extracts in the book which are interesting to read and well-written. However, the book is extremely abstract, it lacks character development and makes it hard for the readers to connect with the story. Also, the exhaustive details about the unimportant characters in the book makes it very tedious to read.
The concept of including the difficult circumstances of Iraq, the war, and the determined efforts and hopes of Iraqis to achieve peace was interesting to read but somewhere the story again loses it’s impact when the author switches back and forth from the past to the present to the memories of the characters, and to the detailed unnecessary descriptions. I was hoping till the end that there would be some kind of an obvious link between the three parts of the book and that the characters, Mary-Alice, Ezra, and Mr. Jafaari would somehow get connected but the story just ended and left me disappointed. The author’s attempt of writing about justice, power, and geography turned out to be more of a mess and confusion.