By Ted Alasis
“Enthusiasm” is a book about, well, writing a book. Somewhat like the television show “Seinfeld,” which billed itself as a show about nothing, “Enthusiasm” uses the largely mundane daily struggles of aspiring writer and author Fida Abbott as a vehicle to illustrate a larger point – that everyone has the spark of greatness within them and, although the odds are often long, reaching a desired destination is the ultimate prize.
Abbott is a housewife with a large aspiration. She wants to join the inner circle of U.S. writers and actually publish a book detailing her life and experiences. English is her second language and she is foreign-born, so the obstacles in her path are formidable. Yet she recalls that a former colleague in her student days was once inspired by a tossed-off sentence that Abbott wrote in a notebook, saying it changed her life.
That lesson hits home with both our heroine and her readers, as we travel with her in her daily grind and take great pleasure in small triumphs along the way, perhaps learning that what can be easily dismissed at first glance holds far greater value upon closer examination. Readers will empathize with the Abbott family’s existence, the fights between spouses, the meals that are shared and the small, kind gestures by online commentators that have a major impact on Abbott.
While “Enthusiasm” may never be a best-seller, any reader that shares time with it and truly grasps its message will be the better for it. We can all learn to be kinder, to be resilient and to persevere in the face of odds. It’s a message for today’s dark world that should be shared.
If there is one quibble, it’s that there is no huge conflict to be resolved. Abbott and her husband feud over the time spent at the computer and work, but the simmering anger never spills over into a major, life-changing moment that would truly resonate. The absence of such a denouement holds the book back from truly underlining its theme and giving Abbott a large dragon to slay. But readers will undoubtedly settle for the thrill of watching a non-native and non-English speaker becoming a published author. (*)
By Ted Alasis