34 of 52 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Brooklyn (Paperback)
I have been a big fan of Toibin for several years. The Heather Blazing is one of my all time favourite novels. The Blackwater Lightship was excellent. The Master is very different to those earlier works, but hugely entertaining and compelling.
Brooklyn does not even begin to approach the standards Toibin has set for himself. In fact, I am sorry to say Brooklyn is an abject failure by any standards. It and the Sea by John Banville are the worst books I have read in the last eighteen months. (Banville is an appalling writer with a nauseating personality who should never have been published so the fact that the Sea was such a poor book was no surprise).
Brooklyn is flat and dull. This, incidentally, has little to do with Toibin's famously economical prose style - which I love. The principal problem is with characterisation. The characters are cardboard cut-out, lacking in complexity, unrealised and utterly unconvincing. The central character is so passive that it is scarcely believable and she simply can sustain my interest. Toibin indulges in long descriptive passages telling us about his protagonist's state of mind, her intentions and reasons and her reflections on events. Very rarely however is any of this conveyed in conversation between the characters. There are very few passages of dialogue - certainly any meaningful dialogue. This, for me, is a telling manifestation of the characterisation problem. Toibin can not give these characters a voice - because he does not really believe in them. You combine this with a very dull chronology of events that is the framework for the story and really, you have nothing.
I completely disagree with the reviewers in the British media and the New York Times who are falling over themselves to find the positives in this novel. One reviewer suggests that the novel is in some way deceptively simple and subversive. They are being hugely dishonest about all this - why, I do not know. Toibin's editors and publishers are advising him badly and must only be interested in promoting him as a literary star - thereby promoting themselves.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Jun 2009 20:38:13 BDT
Yellow Duck says:
Very fair review! Did you know that "Brooklyn" was recently broadcast in the BBC Radio 4 "Book at Bedtime" series (or maybe it was "Book of the Week" on World Service. Can't remember.) I do remember that I didn't manage to stay awake throughout any of the episodes. That's how gripping it was! (I have also posted this comment on a review of "Brooklyn" by N.Byrne)
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2010 22:01:17 BDT
A Customer says:
'They are being hugely dishonest about all this - why, I do not know.'
Of course, it is nothing more than a conspiracy by the media to manipulate us into reading certain books. I wonder where they meet up to discuss their next plan of attack. Perhaps we will never learn their nefarious reasons for so doing.
Posted on 24 May 2010 14:18:19 BDT
Posted on 24 May 2010 14:21:03 BDT
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Nov 2010 21:27:10 GMT
Well, maybe anyone like you Mr O'Carroll, who posts the same comment twice, should not be allowed near a PC or laptop. You pedants always get tripped up by your own errors. Your comment is really just that of a mean spirited, tiny man. I actually can spell dissssaaappooonting. But if you think my inadvertent and relatively harmless spelling mistake is sufficient to deny me the right to review books, then perhaps you should join a far right political party. (Perhaps you are already a member of one?). I wonder are you aware that there many dyslexics, who cannot spell their own names, let alone the word `disappointing', yet they make a living by writing book reviews for some of the world's most respected publications. Tell AA Gill of the Sunday Times your views; I am sure that he will be happy to put you straight, you supercilious, pedantic fool. How about you concentrate on the substance of the views offered, rather than parsing text for inconsequential errors?
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Nov 2010 21:47:32 GMT
Mr O'Carroll: do you see where you used the words "just simply" in your comment? Now, as English language usage goes, that's "just simply" nonsense isn't it? Go on, read it again. Rubbish, no? Bet you can't even see why. Pedantry. It's great isn't it?
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2010 08:31:28 GMT
It's all clear now...the over-reaction, the lengthy ramble, the six month period it has taken to think of a reply. Flibertigibbit...you ARE AA Gill! Keep up the good work.
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2011 18:09:42 GMT
Cassie's friend says:
It wasn't an overreaction; your remark was foolish. By the way, I've never seen 'overreaction' spelt with a hyphen before.
Posted on 27 Apr 2011 11:04:47 BDT
I really couldn't agree more with this review.
Infuriatingly dull - I'm saddened to have wasted the few hours I did reading it.
In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2011 22:03:32 GMT
Get lost you illiterate half wit.