This book has been nominated for the "Man Booker Prize 2006", I'm still trying to work out why. In fact I'm trying to work out what happened. Did anything happen at all? Why was this book written? Did I learn anything from reading it? Is my life enriched in any way? Okay, now I'm getting pretentious. Geraldine Bedell of The Observer says, "Carry Me Down is almost claustrophobically narrow...", and I wholeheartedly agree with that. She goes on to say that it is "also enthralling and absorbing and capable of arousing sympathy to a degree that is almost painful". I wholeheartedly disagree with that!
I would count myself as a reader; I'm probably more of a reader than a knitter. I've certainly been reading consistently longer than I've been knitting consistently. In fact, I'm a lifelong reader. I only got reacquainted with knitting again a year ago after a nearly twenty year gap. I read for pleasure, for escapism (especially when I'm someplace I don't want to be), and occasionally to learn something new. I tend not to read non-fiction unless I'm intensely interested in the subject (e.g. David Starkey's Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne). Since reading is a very pleasurable thing for me, I only read what I like, and I didn't like this! Why did I bother? It was the book club choice for last month. I belong to a small book club of around seven women who all live on the same estate/sub-division. Naturally we are all quite diverse: some are stay at home mums; others professional women without children; others run their own small businesses; there is a homeopathic doctor, etc. I've been a member of this book club for a couple of years, and quite often find myself reading books that are out of my comfort zone. I hadn't realised that there were certain things that I want/need from a book. Components, which if they are absent, make me dislike a book intensely and probably not finish it. What I've learned (in no particular order) is:
- I absolutely loathe books written in the first person. It makes a book narrow in perspective, and generally limits the author's ability to explain the motives behind the various characters' actions.
- I despair if a book is unrelentingly gloomy (e.g. Jung Chan's Wild Swans - gah) ... I get to a point where I start to get depressed myself. Or I'm so annoyed that the characters don't try to improve their situation, that I lose interest in them.
- I like books to be descriptive, I want to be taken to the place and time.... I want to be in the book, transported. This may sound crazy, but when I'm reading, I don't actually see the words on the page - for me it is like watching a film. I'm either a disaffected bystander, or I'm the main protagonist experiencing everything first hand. If a book isn't descriptive, I can't get lost in it.
- I don't like books where time/place/events are uncertain. When did it happen? Did it happen? Was it all a figment of the protagonist's imagination? Yuck, give me a break...