>> Friday, October 11, 2013
Man Booker reading 1 - Harvest and The Kills
So after The Kills, I went straight for the book on the shortlist that sounded best, and that was The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. Granted, it was another monster, at 850 pages, but I heard a few reviews on my regular bookish podcasts, and it sounded like it was absorbing and entertaining, as well as well-written. Having learnt my lesson, I didn't even consider trying to get the paper book from the library, and just bought the ebook. I started reading it on the flight out to Jordan.
The book starts with a young man arriving to a small gold-rush town in a remote corner of New Zealand, and interrupting a gathering of 12 men in one of his hotel's public rooms. The men have got together to share what they know about the strange events that have occurred in the past weeks, with gold appearing, gold disappearing, and people doing more or less the same thing.
There is a lot of stuff going on here, and it did move along. Unfortunately, the book utterly failed to connect with me. There are a lot of characters and there is a lot of plot, but none of these really made me want to continue reading. I can enjoy a book purely emotionally and I can enjoy one purely intellectually (the best, of course, are good in both ways), but neither worked here. I didn't care a whit about any of the characters, even though (or because?) there were many of them, and they were really diverse. I didn't care about what was going on with the gold. And though I thought the writing was at times lovely, the structure felt like the author was trying to be too clever for her book's good and the book felt sprawling, and not in a good way. It could have lost about a third of the section I read. And I did read quite a bit of it: I got to the halfway point (yup, a further 400+ pages with no joy), and that might have been only because I was reading in relatively short snatches, while travelling. Enough; it was another DNF.
Tomorrow: A Tale For The Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki