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Man Booker Longlist? Publisher's Weekly Top 10? Surely not!!
on 3 November 2014
I was really hoping for a book based around the ironies that form modern day Dubai, instead, I got a rambling nonsense of facetious observations, pornography, meaningless words and multi-brackets.
So, here's an example of one needlessly wordy sentence: " I felt ashamed, specifically ashamed, that is, which is to say, filled with shame additional to the general ignominy that is the corollary of insight, i.e., the ignominy of having thus far lived in error, of having failed, until the moment of so-called insight, to understand what could have been understood earlier, an ignominy only deepened by prospective shame, because the moment of insight serves as a reminder that more such moments lie ahead, and that one always goes forward in error."
What pleasure is there in reading such knotted writing?
On the multi-bracket front, a number of sentences had as many as six brackets within brackets. Many words produced 'no definition' in my Kindle dictionary search and the insertion of many French phrases, without translation, was irritating. Some pages were just lists, even a list of e mails that the narrator would like to send to his boss, but never did. Then there was the section about what sort of pornography our hero liked to 'jerk-off' to.
The characters were all unlikable, almost without exception - Ali, the man-of-all-trades was the only one I had any empathy for.
The one redeeming factor was the naming of the fictional tower blocks where the narrator lived - he resides in the area of Privilege Bay, in The Situation, alongside The Statement and The Aspiration, and overlooking Astrominium, which is due to be over half a kilometer in height. These cleverly named blocks promised insights that never materialised.
And what about the Ted Wilson plot line? A fellow diver who seems to have disappeared, leaving behind two wives. This is never resolved, or maybe it's just a warning that the ending of this novel is going to be just as much of a damp squid?
I don't usually slander a book as much as this one, but I found so little to enjoy that I wonder that I actually finished it. A lot of it I skimmed, which I very rarely do.
If you are planning to visit Dubai and would like to read an appropriate book for your travels, please give this one a miss. I am currently reading, and very much enjoying another book based in Dubai, Beyond Dubai by David Millar. This is a book with subtle humour and a wry look at Dubai, but it also looks into the distant past of the Emirates and the people who lived here thousands of years ago, through the archaeology they have left behind them.