First off, I haven't finished reading this book, yet... BUT... I'm going to write this review now... out of sheer excitement, frankly... I've been trying to understand why the books I really "connect" with were all written a long time ago (Beckett, Woolf, Mansfield etc.) and the contemporary English novel (with its parochial concerns and insipid language) leaves me disappointed and so, very, very bored (except for A L Kennedy and Ballard... and maybe, just maybe, a couple more). From the first quote in this book, I think I got the seed of an answer. The point is that the great works of Modernism were not an attempt to shock genteel, bourgeois society. Neither were they written by overly sensitive writers, obsessed with subjectivity, who spent far too long navel-gazing... They had a real and valid concern about their engagement with the world. This book looks like it'll construct a decent argument of how we pick up where Modernism left off, without descending into post-modernism, or even worse, the dull, dull writing that, each year, Booker judges serve up as the cream of English writing. If you've ever been disappointed by contemporary writing and want to experience the excitement you felt when you first read The Trial or Nausea or The Waves, you HAVE to read this book. Last thing, the fact that there are so many other positive reviews (press and from other amazon readers) makes me think I'm not alone in my frustrations... that, at least, is something :)
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