When parallels converge

My reading follows parallel paths. On one side is my normal reading for pleasure that I keep track of through posting reviews on Goodreads. Thanks to a clever gizmo these reviews appear over there ––––> on the right.

The other reading path is the one where I read the first 53 pages of ‘classic’ literature and make a decision as to whether life is too short or not to add the book to my reading pile. This occasional project has stuttered because I have found it crowded out by my other enthusiasms for family, narrow boating and writing film fiction. Nevertheless, I intend picking it up when I can.

The paths converged recently when I read Sebastian Barry’s 2016 Costa Book of the Year Days Without End. Here is my review:

If I didn’t finish this book – and I didn’t – how could I give it any stars, let alone the two that signify “it was ok”? Well, I enjoyed the start. The introduction of Thomas McNulty and John Cole in their pubescent guises as saloon dancers baited the hook well and I had taken the bait by the time the boys joined up and had their first taste of ‘injun fighting’.
But something about the next episode and the flood that followed combined with the discrepancy between Thomas’s lack of education and the language of his narration made my enthusiasm flag. ‘Life’s too short’ to carry on reading when the pleasure has drained away.
Even without reading the reviews here I know I’m going to be in a very small minority who feel negative about this highly-acclaimed book. I can see that the writing is of a very high standard. I even have the feeling that if I could have pushed on for a few more pages I would care more about what is going to happen to the protagonists.
But (and this is coincidence, I assure you) I reached page 53, put the book down and just couldn’t be bothered enough to pick it up again.

Days Without End is a highly acclaimed novel. Time will tell whether it is ever regarded as a ‘classic’. In the meantime, and by happy coincidence, it can serve as one in order to keep the ’53 pages’ pot boiling. You can tell from the review that I won’t return to the 248 pages as yet unread.

About The Author

Robert Ronsson

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14

04 2019

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