Monday, 22 September 2014

J - Booker shortlist #2

Honestly, I don't want to waste any more time on this one. It's bogged me down, deterred me from my journey, made me sleep rather than read, made me irritable.
Trying to think of a sort of intelligent critique rather than just saying it's rubbish, I note the publisher's assertion that this is nothing like Jacobson's normal work, but respectfully disagree - it's like it, in that it's hard work to read, and a big old waste of paper.

Pretentious and try-hard, with all the classic mistakes of a very new writer.

Unnecessary world-building?  Yup
Lots of silly made up names? Got it
Conspiracy and "twists" laid on with a trowel? Absolutely
Hijacking of something that's actually important to make a book that just, well, isn't? In there!
Special affectation of typography, for this book alone? This is the "overindulged writer" special.

Really, I can't think of a redeeming feature, other than that it wasn't longer. It didn't make me laugh, or think; it didn't make me want to go and explore anything in the book; it didn't give me even a moment's pause after I closed the covers. It is, to me, lazy and silly and very very under-edited (just one example - he should have had a big pat on the head for managing so convincingly to write in the boring pompous voice of "Phinny", and then should have had it scored through with red lines, because convincingly boring writing is just boring, and that's not a merit).

The only germ of readability in it was some of the pages of verbal wrangling between the two key characters, but even that is so sparsely distributed, and becomes so contrived and dull by the end, that its value is lost.

The blurb also says the novel is "to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World" - well, yes, in the sense of "if you would like to read a dystopian novel, put aside this nonsense as quickly as you can and read one of those two, because they're both much much much better". 

1 comment:

  1. Our comments have just overlapped on Emma Darwin's blog, so I thought I'd pop over and see what you were up to. I haven't read this novel (but did enjoy Zoo Time, though I couldn't get past the first chapter of The Finkler Question) but I love your crotchety review! In my reviews I do try to accentuate the positives but it's also fun to let rip when the overly hyped novels don't work for us. My most critical review was probably this one about Jennifer Johnston
    The only novel on the Booker shortlist I've read so far is The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which I loved, so curious as to what you have to say about it.