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jenks
04-07-2005, 11:45 AM
i know slightly discussed on the mitchell thread but i am trying to keep things tidy here.
on the back of jed's recommendation i read this with mounting disssatisfaction - this was the best novel ( with all the usual restrictions the booker places on these things) of last year???? how?? WHY?????

huge swathes of it seemed to be undigested plot or just plain smut - no objections to good bottom sex writing but this was rubbish.

the whole analogy of the rise of the thatcherite prperty owning classs and the slow and tragic spread of aids seemed to me to be entirely laboured and not very successful.

the one moment of powerful writing came in the final section when he finally had the ideas to match the poetry and the elegiacal tone fitted.

i know melmoth has talked about the ghost of henry james casting a pall over the novel at present and this has a self-consciously jamesian tone/ theme but i felt it ended up more like sixth form fitzgerald!

Melmoth
05-07-2005, 09:10 AM
Some nice precise descriptions of London in there.

Leaving aside my moans about James, I think that if you're going to do the whole interior-life character thing, then TLOB pulls it off (snigger) pretty successfully. He sets himself a pretty stern task by having a central figure who is, and i can't put it any more delicately than this, a complete cunt. But he conveys very well the self-delusions and lack of insight of the guy, allows him to hang himself with his own words and actions while thinking that he's being super-refined and sophisticated.

Its really damning of the grasping hypocrisy and superficiality of that west london tory set, without hectoring or obvious moralizing. Thats the real lesson of James I suppose, something that McEwan fails to do in Saturday for example, where there is no sense of an implicit critique of Perowne's pathetic moral evasions.

i thought the ending was slightly dubious in that it suddenly became more obviously judgemental with
various revelations and downfalls.

The Swimming Pool Library is worth a look too.