5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A good, but occasionally overwrought, book.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Hope (Paperback)
I read this book in two sittings, both on trains. This is best way to do it. The prose is dense and intense, the lead character wrings his hands, beats his breast, and leads you slowly through the twists and turns of his life. If you can't stand angst, you won't enjoy this book. Unless you can spare the time to read it in large chunks its oppressive weight won't build up on you and you'll miss its greatest effect.
The plot is simple boy-meets-girl stuff: nothing spectacular. None of the characters, except Alica, the glittering centre-piece of the narrator's life, are particularly admirable and as time passes each of them undergoes some unpleasant experiences. As expected these are all tied together albeit occasionally with co-incidence rather than a linear story. Their collected woes are seen only though the narrator's eyes and he gallantly suffers them for us, so we can seen how bad they are, hence all the aforementioned hand-wringing and so forth.
A wistful nostalga for the superficially idylic life of students in love (the narrator and Alica) and young children at play is well evoked, whilst simultainiously tainting it. This is achived through the narrators dual view: a rose tinted view of past happiness and a rain smeared vision of his, and others', shortcomings.
Do the characters emerge as better people? Well, no, mostly they emerge as sadder, somehow less alive people. By the end of the novel the pathos is palpable and where the characters once were there is left only a hole. The final pages contain two shocks both of which change the reader's view of the narrator. They are either trite and out of character or they finally reveal the (ficional) world without the narrator's self-serving filter. I can't decide.
And what does the reader take away? I was left with a ringing sense of emptyness and dispair but no real insight into the book's alleged subject (the effects of pornography). It's a book about people, not about society.
It reminded me a little of Interview With The Vampire, but with less blood and blunter teeth.