I bought The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry (a novel) after reading the blurb and being instantly interested. It sounded great: a misanthropic bookseller, that was actually enough. This book was also in Whitcoulls ‘Joan’s Picks’ and I’d read a few of her recommendations before and had enjoyed them. It started off well, the first thirty or so pages, I thought I was in for something special. Then… It turned into the worst book I’ve read in years.
Imagine a cool, moody, drunkard of a book seller (think Bernard Black from Black Books), so far so good, but then somebody leaves a baby in his shop and he is almost instantly transformed into super-community-minded-dad-of-the-year, *vomit*. Then it just turns to the most predictable plot I’ve ever read. I was actually groaning because it was soooo predictable. And to make matters worse the author inserted a whole bunch of ‘classic’ quotes and references to authors and poets, which felt too forced.
But it seems like this is a really popular book and is getting good reviews. So, maybe I missed something, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. I hated it.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was a brilliant book. I loved every minute of it, and found it both entertaining and full of explorable themes. Not much to say really other than if you ain’t read it, do it 🙂
And the reason for my pre-reading of Robinson Crusoe was in preparation for this book. Currently my favourite author EVER!, Coetzee has written a beautiful, if unexpected, book which is, and I quote, “the most profound book ever written about race relations in a society where whites were often separated from blacks by an abyss of linguistic and cultural incomprehension.”
Susan Barton is shipwrecked with Cursoe on his island then saved. She tries to have her story written by Foe who seems intent on embellishing it. But it is so much more than that: It’s about them trying to give a voice to the tongueless Friday, which explores language and power (and I stole that from Wikipedia). But it is sooo good. Actually I think I need to read it again.
Words cannot describe the sheer magnitude and genius of this book. Incredible is an injustice. It brims with power and the existential dilemma of identity as a writer (sort of like the end of Elizabeth Costello). It flooded me with confusion too, brain scattering connections that could not be made, and by the time I finished it was so unsure what I’d read that I had no choice but to delve into deconstructive essays on it, this helped a lot. Actually without them I’d never have guessed at the book’s true purpose.
Worth a read, worth an exploration, worth analysis and worth it once you get it.