Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Solitaire Mystery

Finally a post. Finally I've done some reading during the hols. I wouldn't get any reading done if I was stuck on land.

The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder was an apt book to read as it was a journey to Athens to search for the protagonist's mother, who has left to search for herself. Likewise, I'm perhaps veering on the edge of quarter life crises, and am searching for what I truly want in life. Seemingly like Le Grand Voyage, my brother-in-law was also travelling with his father, together with my sister and myself to Athens. Although I finished the novel only on the 9hr ferry ride back from Santorini from Athens, I whooped in glee as I identified the busy Syntagma Square and the majestic Acropolis mentioned in the novel.

The father, a highly-deemed philosopher by his son, raised issues about self-awareness and questions one's existence. Apart from these reflective moments, the story is wrapped around with the pack of 52 cards. I thought that it was thought-provoking to have each card representing 52 weeks of a year: 13 cards in each set (13x4=52weeks), with the Joker card to rule 1 day of the year - 52 weeks x 7 days = 364 / 365 days. And because the Joker does not belong to any set in a pack of cards, it has no identity, nor form, and thus questions its existence. That is, being a philosopher.

Apart from how cards represent the Calendar, relations from card-reading to Oedipal Complex surfaces in the second part of the novel, about how one cannot escape Fate. It was predictable to have the protagonist's life unfolding to the prophecy according to the cards during the celebration of the Joker's year, but nevertheless well-wrapped and wholesome.

One-third into the story, I became confused as it was a story-within-a-story, save for the different font. I didn't like the way the father throws faint light upon issues and not deal with them, or perhaps the writer's intention was merely to provoke some self-reflection in his readers. Before I continue just a little more, I must declare that I've not read Sophie's World and this is my first read of Jostein Gaarder's works. The predictability of the plot can be intepreted both ways - it was anti-climatic to know how the story would continue and end; yet I was geared to read on, to see if the prophecy of the cards would be fulfilled. Currently I'm reading The Road Less Travelled and Beyond by M. Scott Peck, a book long-left on my shelf. Hopefully more questions would emerge as I transform into a Joker before returning to Athens, Bangkok and Singapore.

Bookclubbing from Istanbul, 8.35pm.