Friday, May 13, 2005

It must be my lack of sophistication

Every time I read a book because it won an award, I wonder why it won. I just finished reading The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. I think I first heard about it on NPR. It won the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. As the prize web site will tell you, the award is meant to recognize "the very best of contemporary fiction."

Also, this was a gay-themed book by a gay author, so I really wanted to read this book. In light of my current financial situation, I did something radical. I got it from this place here in town. It's like a bookstore, but they don't charge anything for the books. All you have to do is return the book when you're done with it. I forget what it's called. It starts with an L.

Anyhow, I read the book.

For a book containing young gay men and gay sex, it was quite tedious. Mr. Hollinghurst knows lots of fancy words, and he seems hell-bent on making sure you know how brilliantly he can say simple things. Why make a point concisely, when the same task can be accomplished over the course of several paragraphs?

I must be a literary philistine. Having finished The Line of Beauty, I've gotten a David Baldacci novel from that "L" bookstore. I'm sure it will be more my speed.


MAK said...

I read Line of Beauty just before I went to London in the winter...and I wanted to kill myself every step of the way. MOST. BORING. BOOK. EVER. I understand that his earlier works are quite stunning, but I just couldn't get into this one. I went into it with a completely open mind and high expectations (perhaps too high). In the end, I had no interest in the characters or their plights, nor did I care one iota about the politics of the era. For what it's worth, I've been told that The Swimming Pool Library is a much bette representation of his writing skills...although it's at the back end of my wish list now.

Martijn said...

I cannot get through the first chapter. His first two books were wonderful, but I feel the Booker prize has been given as a compensation for the fact that he has been ignored when he should have won.

I recommend reading David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas", who should have won the prize instead of Hollinghurst; you won't be disappointed, I promise.

Jess said...

Thanks, guys. You've made me feel better about this!

Knottyboy said...

Thanks for the heads up. I won't be reading this little gay "treasure". I read a similarly written book but this was by Patricia Cornwall, the portrait of a serial killer. About Jack the Ripper. She did figure out who it was but all her findings were written in a way as if you felt you wouldn't believe her unless she told you what his neighbor's cousin's letter depicting this man as a weirdo. Hell I knew jack was a weirdo going in. Anyway, it was painful and slow going. A disappointment really because her Kay Scarpetta books are fun to read.