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Old 3rd Feb 2017, 10:17   #1
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Default A Little Life

I thought it was a bit rubbish. If there is still anyone else out there, I might post more branes.
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Old 28th Apr 2017, 6:09   #2
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Default Re: A Little Life

What didn't you like about it?
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Old 28th Apr 2017, 10:00   #3
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Default Re: A Little Life

I think the Palimp receives a little more passing attention these days (and some of the members will be meeting face-to-face in a few weeks, according to long-standing tradition!), so why not dive in and tell us what you think?

(and for my poor sake at least, you could start with a bit more detail - what is A Little Life?)

((also, welcome aboard, Mahar! Our forum has become quiet in recent years, but if you love books and reading you're in good company.))
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Old 23rd May 2017, 10:52   #4
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Default Re: A Little Life

Because I am massively lazy, I will shamelessly recycle a review I wrote elsewhere.

The novel in question is A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. It was nominated for the Man Booker prize recently, the year that A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James won. If it is any consolation to Ms Yanagihara, I also struggled with Mr James's opus. In fact, I couldn't even finish it. Didn't even get a third of the way through. Whereas at least I managed to carry on with A Little Life to the bitter (and it is very bitter) end.

Now, I am possibly in a minority here. Other reviewers have said it is "A book that demands to be read" and that it is "Astonishing and unsettling."

I did not find it so. I found it to be a very long, repetitive, dull novel.

It probably earns its critical esteem because it deals with child abuse and self-harm. Unfortunately, dealing with controversial subject matter does not make a book good.

The characters are unconvincing and do nothing to endear us or make us interested in their rather unrealistic lives (A successful artist! A successful actor! A successful lawyer! A successful architect!). I struggled to care about them, really. It was telling that the only character I felt faintly positive about was Malcolm (The successful architect!) and he was one the one with whom we spent least time and were awarded least insight into.

The style of writing is monotonous - endless descriptions - particularly of dinners and interior decor - and pages of not terribly much happening and no-one talking and everything being spelled out for the reader.

I will give it two stars, because I'd hate to think that I spent so much of my life reading a one star book ... no ... that's not fair. Yanagihara has at least tried to do something big and ambitious and, dreadfully, dreadfully serious. She doesnt do it very well, but at least she didn't write a novel about being 30 in New York and not being able to find the perfect man.

(Though as the main characters are gay, perhaps she sort of did. But at least there were no references to handbags or designer shoes, that I noted.)

It reminded me of another very long book that I gleefully loathed on these pages, An American Tragedy. That book, like A Little Life, plodded on interminably for no clear purpose. Like tragedy, Life did have occasional good moments, but they were separated by whole other novels worth of dull prose about unappealing characters and decisions around interior decoration and food.

And it goes on.


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