Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not Worth Reading (In My Humble Opinion)

Over spring break I read Naomi Ragen's most recent book, The Covenant, and was superbly unimpressed. Now, unlike some of her other books, I actually wholeheartedly agree with her opinion in this one; terrorism is bad. However, when an author relies on stereotypes instead of character development, she hurts her point. Ragen's point is valid, but instead of arguing with the facts, she uses one-dimensional stereotypes and a fantastical setting so that even someone who agreed with her going in came out skeptical.

I think it's really easy for us to rely on what we know is true, but you can't convince people of those beliefs without real info. It's really hard, though, when you grow up believing something is true to have a good grasp of the facts. I would argue that many of us (myself included) could not argue the facts well in the case of Israel, terrorism, Zionism, etc. because it's always a granted in the frum community that Israel is right and they're all out to get us. So Ragen had an excellent oppurtunity in this book to educate not only her secular readers, but even the frum readers.

However, I'm not really sure a novel is the best place to prove a point anyway. I used to be a big Ayn Rand fan and couldn't understand why every English teacher I knew despised the author. I've figured out that it's because she writes propaganda, not novels. I would argue that Ragen does the same thing in The Covenant - and less skillfully.


At 3/23/05, 8:59 AM, Blogger Chaim said...

I went through all her books one weekend. Read Jepte's Daughter long time ago, Her style can get very repetitive after a while, you know, the word pious and modesty is repeated throughout her books probably 100,000 times. (oh the piety!!)

At 3/23/05, 9:28 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

You're right and I think it's a shame because she does have valid things to say and valid criticisms to make (about the Charedi community and certainly about terrorism) and she's in a position to make those opinions heard. She's in a position where she could effect change.

But instead she is so antagonistic and one-sided that she turns people off more than anything else and broadens the division within the frum world instead of fixing the problems.

At 3/23/05, 11:15 AM, Blogger Chaim said...

She is very talented, just gets lazy with plot points, they get to predictable.


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