Friday, January 25, 2008
A Dubious Prize--giveaway
Wow, there was unanimous dislike last night at my book group as we discussed Anne Enright’s Booker prize-winning novel The Gathering. And this is a really pleasant group of women, not given to nastiness. They’re all mothers of children around the same age, some of whom I have known for going on ten years, and I would choose to hang out with them whether we were discussing books or not.
It was a dark and stormy night, but my book groupers are intrepid, and they showed up anyway, shaking off rivulets of rain, but ready for the discussion. My very sweet husband had made a fire and some strong coffee, but as usual, most of us chose a little pinot noir to begin the evening. Fortified with the wine, hors d’oeuvres, and lots of desserts, we began to dissect the book. I was surprised that not one of the readers liked this book.
We all agreed that we did not like the narrator much, nor did we like the story. Some objected to the elliptical storytelling, some to the tone, some to the overly familiar themes. But I was surprised at how vehement the opinions were.
On the positive side, some of the readers appreciated Enright’s writing style as poetic and smart. I agreed with that. I found some of her descriptions quite beautiful.
But ultimately nobody cared enough about the characters. This sparked a very interesting conversation about how writers and filmmakers succeed when they make us care about their characters.
After we finish our book discussion, as usual, we turned to other subjects—kids, husbands, politics, movies, you name it. It’s always great talk.
On reflection, we realized we have not had much luck with prize-winning books. We chose two books for next time, a memoir and a novel, both rather short: Shalom Auslander’s Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir, and Vendela Vida’s Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name: A Novel.
Which brings me to the giveaway portion of this post. Considering what I’ve written about this book, I guess this is a dubious prize, but three of my book groupers left their slightly used paperback copies of The Gathering for me to dispose of, and I thought I would pass them on to you, if you want them.
So if you want a copy of Anne Enright’s The Gathering, guaranteed to have been read only once, leave me a note in the comments, and I’ll pick the winners out of a hat.