I understand many of the reviewers who found Henry Green difficult but thought Sebastian Faulks was a bit sweeping in his introduction that 'Party Going, though it has proved a most fertile ground for critics and theorists of narrative, is the one that is most likely to be problematic to the non-academic reader' as if an 'ordinary' reader hasn't the application or intelligence to get through these three volumes. I'm sure he didn't mean it to sound like that.
Yes - they are hard work on one level, but that's only because they break modern conventions of novel writing much as Wilf Self has done in Umbrella. However, once you fall into the rhythm of Green's lyrical dialogue it is no more difficult to read than a play and when he breaks from dialogue to describe a rare piece of location the images - for example, the conversations shouted over the sound of the relentlessly crashing surf in Loving - live on long after you have finished the book.
It's hard to describe the unique, refreshing experience of reading Henry Green. Oblique, off-centre novels written with great psychological insight. They're not like any others I've read, though Virginia Woolf probably comes closest. I'll never forget the first time I came across him, and the strange, unsettling delight of the way he uses language. They were like a cold shower. They're for lovers of literature and language and what language can be made to do. The three novels collected here are particularly strong - it's sad to finish a Henry Green novel, because they're short, there aren't that many of them, and you won't ever get the chance to come to it freshly again.
"Living" is a rare treat. The prose style is set in a Midlands accent throughout, using not just a distinctive vocabulary but the clipped rhythms, dropped articles, and regional phrasing patterns.
The result is like reading a text set down in dialect, or, in a strange way, Chaucer in the original. The experience is closer to absorbing the spoken word, to hearing talking rather than to reading writing, to the nature of 'parole' (direct speech) rather than 'ecriture' (written prose).
Should this be counted as experimental modernism? Maybe not. Whatever, the novel stresses voice in a manner not often encountered in English literature (Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners might be a point of comparison).