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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Finkler Question

I had planned to write this post reviewing this Man Booker Prize winning novel written by Howard Jacobson a few days ago. However it took me this long to finally finish reading the book. I haven’t had to physically make myself plough through a book for awhile now. The last time was when I forced myself to finish Tess of the D’Urbervilles and that took me over a year to read!

Thank goodness it only took just over a week to read The Finkler Question because I don’t think I could have coped with it any longer. From the first paragraph I knew I was going to hate the hero. Not only was he dull and boring, but he was also frustrating. I felt like clipping him over the ear and telling him to get a life. If he was a friend of mine, not that I would have such useless friends, I would have spent a fair bit of time trying to organise him into a functional person rather than an emotional leech.

I had read fabulous reviews about this book:

'A real giant. A great, great writer'

Jonathan Safran Foer

'The Finkler Question is wonderful. A blistering portrayal of a funny man who at last confronts the darkness of the world'

Beryl Bainbridge

'Naked, haunting, unflinching. Its account of sexual obsession is frightening, painful and finally very moving. A tour de force'

Harold Pinter

But I simply couldn’t see what they were seeing. No way was Treslove funny. He wasn’t even slightly amusing. He was purely annoying. Granted, Jacobson has a way with words. Some of his sentences are brilliant. But his characters are not so luminescent. They might have been real and true to life, but they weren’t the sort of characters I wanted to read about. I have more than enough questions about my own identity to want to read about someone else’s angst over their identity and whether they are Jewish, or feel Jewish or will ever be accepted as a Jew. There is more wringing of hands and wailing at walls in this book to ever interest me. I guess I prefer to read about people who overcome their childhoods or upbringing or disillusionments to achieve great things. I prefer not to read about those who drown themselves in continual torment and anguish, especially when there is no happy ending. Sorry – did I just spoil that for anyone???

So… onto the next book – Tim Winton’s “Breath”. Hopefully I will enjoy this one a tad more.


  1. If I'm not enjoying a book, I toss it. What's the point of tormenting yourself. Reading is a luxury these days, and there are plenty more books in the library......

  2. Ack! He sounds like an MC who would really irritate me, too. I prefer 'smart funny' or dry... have no clue what this guy was, but I DO KNOW I am picky about it. And boring people creating their own drama drive me nuts.

    I really think some critic overthink these things and see things as more clever than they are (either that, or I am simply unable to grasp some level of brilliance?)

  3. Is this a book you were reading for fun or an assignment or review?

  4. Oh, I hope the next one is better.

  5. Mermaid - usually I do the same, but I do want to try to get thru the list of literary prize winners I've set myself!

    Hart & Kazzy - I totally agree!

    Domestic - Ive set myself a challenge to read the last five or six Miles Franklin and Man Booker prize winners...

    lovinangels - it was! Will post on it soon.


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