Welcome to the wrap-up for Herta Müller’s The Appointment, the first of March’s two Reading Buddies books. This post shall include spoilers, starting with the next paragraph; if you want to avoid them, or if you’d like more background on Herta Müller and the book, please check out my first post about The Appointment. If you’re reading the book too, or if you’re not but don’t mind spoilers, read on!
So. I said last week that, in the first 80 pages, I hadn’t yet learned why our nameless main character kept getting called in by Romania’s secret police. Turns out I was wrong. Turns out the reason for her ongoing summons seemed so unimportant to me that I dismissed it as being just another anecdote about her life. I can’t believe that for something so laughable as slipping notes into a few pairs of pants awaiting shipment, the main character’s life is made so miserable. I expected her to have witnessed some horrible crime, or to have been unwittingly associated with a wanted man, or something…bigger. When I realized the cause of her frequent appointments, I was shocked. It made more real for me the insanity that must be life under a regime like that. I think the book meant more to me because the woman’s crime seemed so small; it highlighted the fanaticism and fear much more effectively than a larger crime would have done.
As I mentioned in my previous post about The Appointment, I liked the structure Müller used, alternating between scenes from the woman’s life and moments from her bus ride to her most recent appointment. I especially enjoyed the bus scenes; they were so ordinary, and yet there seemed to be so much simple truth in them. I also liked the woman’s narrative voice. My favorite quote is still the one about cracking nuts from my first post, but the feeling from that example pervaded the whole book, making it nice to read.
I’ll admit I was confused by the ending. It left me feeling off balance. Part of that came from the fact that I wasn’t sure what had happened (or was about to happen). I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think, what future I was supposed to imagine for the woman. When I recall the book now, it seems I’ve sort of blocked the ending out of my mind; in fact, I’ve managed to make the story work quite well without it! Who knows, I might just be missing something obvious. I’d love to hear your interpretation of the ending, if you have one.
Overall, The Appointment wasn’t my favorite book, but it’s one that made me think, and I’m very glad you guys got me to read it. I’m not ready for another of Müller’s novels yet, but I’d definitely read her again. What about you?
Other participants (if I’ve missed you, let me know!):