Saturday, November 20, 2004


Finished the rest of The Line of Beauty. It won't be to everyone's taste--and no, I'm not talking about the coke-and-gay-sex aspect of it, just the verging-on-overblown aestheticism. I know a lot of people who are just unwilling to read books written in this kind of a backward-harking style. (For instance, I don't know that I'd recommend it to Kevin Wignall, who "detested . . . 'GB84' by David Peace, 'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell, 'Notes on a Scandal' by Zoƫ Heller, 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' by Mark Haddon - all of them simply awful"--link from
Jennifer Jordan via Sarah Weinman. My brothers wouldn't have the patience to bother with it. My mom would most likely find the Jamesian style offputting. My dad might read it, because he's interested in British politics in the 1980s, but in the grand scheme of things there are a lot of books I'd be far more likely to recommend to him, for instance, Richard Fortey's Earth: An Intimate History. You get the idea. In fact, I imagine most people I know are relatively unlikely to read this book.)

But it's brilliant. It's really, really good. The description of Thatcher at the party is amazing. The last section of the novel is tragic. The unflattering precision with which Hollinghurst anatomizes each thought and feeling of Nicholas Guest--I don't even know where to begin. Anyway, the Booker judges did well this year. This is a major novel by a fascinating writer. Well worth the time. And yet I am very unlikely to reread it, just because the characters are so relentlessly offputting. Interesting experience.

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