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Day


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and challenging
It is easy to see why views differ so widely. This book takes on big issues - morality, the human condition, trauma, love, friendship - seen through the eyes of a fallible character. Although the second world war setting is strictly naturalistic (and well-researched) there are elements of symbolism and the narrative structure is, as others have pointed out, complex,...
Published on 15 April 2009 by SussexBeemer

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative but not engrossing
A L Kennedy's brilliance and creative use of language are not in doubt; but for once, they fall a little short for me this time. The story of Alfie Day, his relationships with the rest of his bomber crew and with others such as his lover, apear in fragments to be pieced together, as they come to his mind. Much of the narrative is almost stream-of-consciousness in style,...
Published on 11 Sep 2007 by Waterbaby


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative but not engrossing, 11 Sep 2007
This review is from: Day (Hardcover)
A L Kennedy's brilliance and creative use of language are not in doubt; but for once, they fall a little short for me this time. The story of Alfie Day, his relationships with the rest of his bomber crew and with others such as his lover, apear in fragments to be pieced together, as they come to his mind. Much of the narrative is almost stream-of-consciousness in style, and we learn only as Alfie comes to it in his own time, that he is a darker character than we suspect at first. There is murder, there is war, there is a tortured love affair; and yet somehow the book left me feeling that nothing had really happened at the end of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insipid war story that doesn't quite work, 1 Mar 2010
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Day (Paperback)
This story has the potential to be a tear jerker, with its subject matter, but it doesn't quite meet the mark. It's a war story, a sort of WW2 'All Quiet on the Western Front', in its celebration of the cameraderie between troops, and in its depiction of the tragedy of ordinary lives ruined by war, both those who die and those who survive.

Day himself, a former rear gunner in a Lancaster bomber, is a hard character to warm to, though he's probably a realistic character. He's not someone I found easy to relate to and he seemed far older than the 26 years he was supposed to be. Kennedy writes well although I found the sections in the Black Country vernacular hard to understand. I didn't feel that the love story element worked very well, preferring the parts about his time with his 'crew' or on the POW camp film set where he finds himself working as an extra after the war. The ending was irritatingly inconclusive and there's something about the whole that just doesn't hang right - I can't put my finger on it but it doesn't seem to come together quite as it should.

It is a well written novel and the subject matter is powerful, but somehow it didn't pack the punch that I expect from a war story. I can see why it won the Costa Prize, because of the pretty phraseology, but as a story I wasn't rushing home to read the next chapter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self-consciously literary style: endlessly irritating., 2 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Day (Paperback)
This book's chief problem is the self-consciously literary style. I don't mind working at a novel, but this one just seemed pretentious and far more interested in its own intellectual credentials than in supporting its characters and story-line. The plotting is quite opaque, and I kind-of get the idea of a confused, traumatised individual placed in a situation so full of resonance that memory and reality start to merge, Unfortunately, at every turn I found the author yelling "look at me! Did you see what I did there?" Instead if finding it immersive I found it endlessly irritating. As has been well documented in other reviews, you have to really concentrate to follow the constant time shifts, but I didn't find the effort rewarding. The book certainly has big themes (e.g. the exploration of the psyche of a not-very-heroic individual forced to carry out heroic deeds - but which themselves turn out to be morally ambiguous; and the nuanced, class-riddled relationships between air-crew members) but the dominant voice was always that of an author showing off her literary cleverness and ever-so-daring use of the C word. As a result I found the serious effort needed to actually follow the book was not rewarded. A sad disappointment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and challenging, 15 April 2009
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This review is from: Day (Paperback)
It is easy to see why views differ so widely. This book takes on big issues - morality, the human condition, trauma, love, friendship - seen through the eyes of a fallible character. Although the second world war setting is strictly naturalistic (and well-researched) there are elements of symbolism and the narrative structure is, as others have pointed out, complex, involving multiple layers of flashback. But the novel repays in full the effort it demands of the reader. A L Kennedy's ability to imagine the life of an airman and PoW in a war which ended 20 years before she was born is astonishing. Her treatment of the moral aspects of war is questioning but largely avoids anachronistic standpoints. The positive ending, holding out at least the possibility of redemption, was unexpected, at least for this reader, but on reflection put the bleakness of what had gone before in perspective.

Not an easy read, either literally or metaphorically. Kennedy makes few concessions to the reader unfamiliar with the period or the paraphenalia of warfare. There is much vulgarity and some horror. But both the principal character and the ideas gradually gripped me and I was eagerly turning the pages by the end, sorry not to be able to follow Alfred Day's story further. There are some parallels with William Golding's 'Pincher Martin', another novel set during the second world war and narrated through many flashbacks. Both are about the human potential for good and evil and the difficulty in defining those concepts in some circumstances. I found 'Day' a convincing and satisfying work on several levels.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, enjoyable but also slow, 17 May 2008
By 
D. Ballard (Ramsbury Wiltshire UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Day (Hardcover)
Unlike one of the other reviewers, I devour books. Like him I found this book very impressive. I did enjoy it and found it very moving indeed - in no way did I regret buying it and reading it. However, unlike him I found it quite slow, not a page turner. Indeed it took me longer to read than any other book I can remember for a long time.

The hero is a complex character and we see his personality develop through the book as he emerges from an abusive childhood and finds a capacity to love. There are two, perhaps three objects of his love. Joyce, his crewmates with whom he fully expects - and wants to - die, and perhaps the Lancaster bomber in which he occupies the rear turret.

I have to say I missed the 'insanity' of which some of the other reviewers write. What I saw was a person reclaiming his memory and his life after shattering experiences during the war which come to life as he participates as an extra in a film about life in a PoW camp similar to the one in which he had been incarcerated.

The dialect he spoke was quite unfamiliar to me and I couldn't place it at all easily. This got in the way a bit at the beginning, but only for a few pages. It only reappears from time to time.

I do recommend this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 Mar 2008
By 
N. Smith "beetrootrabbit" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Day (Paperback)
I was wanting to like this after enjoying 2 of the other Costa nominated books, but unfortunately I found this book a real slog. As a previous reviewer has commented this book failed to keep my attention & I found I had read several pages without taking anything in. There were some lovely moments in the book, inparticularly the parts between Joyce & Alfred but I would not recommend this title to anyone. Sorry!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trying to be too clever, 9 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Day (Hardcover)
I had heard great things about this novel but it left me cold. The language, whilst intricate, did not have the beauty of other authors. It is a highly researched novel, no doubt, but unless one is an expert on WWII ammunition and slang this research actually detracts from the story telling. Considering A.L Kennedy used to do stand-up comedy I would have expected a little more soul in the tale.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartrending, beautiful WW2 novel, 13 May 2007
By 
M. Harrison - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Day (Hardcover)
If you've read anything by AL Kennedy before you'll recognise her singular combination of human insight, masterly plotting and structure and inventive, almost hypnotic language. Here it all comes together to create one of the best war stories I've ever read. But you don't have to be a WW2 buff to enjoy this - it's much more than just a war story. Meticulously researched, there's dark humour, understated tragedy and one of the most successful fictional attempts I can recall to get right inside the skin of another human being; and given that human being - Alfie, a young tail gunner in a Lancaster bomber - is so different from the author in so many ways, it's an incredible feat. I can't recommend this book highly enough, and will be passing it on to friends and family - and strangers in the street, probably!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Review in the style of A L Kennedy!, 1 Mar 2008
This review is from: Day (Hardcover)
She has written a book, a novel of a book, a story of war and a man, a story of madness and war, of men and war, of a man and his mother and war. Some of her sentances are almost incomprehensible, too complex, as the reader reads, the reader, that person, gets to the end and thinks; 'what did I just read', did I? I did read, yes I did. They go back, read again and realise they didn't understand, it didn't work, it was just words.
The words, oh the words! They just go on and on and mean not much by the end......

Avoid.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too clever for its own good, 20 Sep 2014
By 
jfp2006 (PARIS/France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Day (Paperback)
Oh dear, I did want to like Day, I genuinely wanted to do justice to what must surely have been a considerable labour of love for its author, A.L.Kennedy. But then I came across the word “sub-Woolfian” in a review, and the “sub-” brought home to me that it’s not given to everyone to write experimental fiction *and* succeed in moving the reader at the same time. (And one also has to acknowledge that, although Virginia Woolf has her admirers and imitators, she never, in the end, succeeded in killing off realistic linear narrative forms.)
Alfred Day is a shell-shocked soldier whose life has fallen apart and who (doubtless unwisely) attempts to find some kind of redemption as an extra in a film about the war… the novel is a jagged, distorted collection of memories of both that war and of his equally problematic childhood.
But far too jagged and distorted to ever engage the reader’s attention and interest. I love complicated stream-of-consciousness novels (Will Self’s Umbrella is a contemporary work of art), and yet I kept finding myself wondering what I’d missed, going back a few pages, realising that, no, I hadn’t missed anything… it was just confusing – and, ultimately, alienating.
I confess to having only skimmed the last hundred pages or so. “Too clever for its own good” sounds like a very harsh judgment indeed… but it seems the best way of summarising Day. To quote another unforgiving review: “words with the life sucked out of them”.
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Day
Day by A.L. Kennedy (Paperback - 7 Feb 2008)
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