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13 Jul 10 | Re: Bookshop minefield

A while ago I posted a review of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, a novel with no rules, no plot, no regard for its readers’ personal well-being, and rather unclear reward for getting to the end of it (but that is still worth getting if you’re looking for a big commitment or a new doorstep). Well, since then I’ve started seeing it in bookshops at stations and airports, alongside your standard thrillers and Freakonomics and that book by Lionel Shriver.

Jiminy Jillickers! I imagine that if you stand in an airport arrivals area you will readily be able to identify, by their hollow eyes and harrowed, hunted demeanour, the unfortunate travellers who were looking for a light novel to read on a plane and picked up this book instead. Disguising the thing as airport bookshop fare is some achievement in itself, since my hardback edition would account for most of a standard hand luggage allowance. But really, selling this Bosch-like post-narrative panorama in that situation is tantamount to negligence.

If you want a challenge that might, after 900 pages of meandering through the psyche of a tortured man, give you something to ruminate on in your own darker moments, buy this book. If you are hopping on a train up to York to see your in-laws, buy Freakonomics.

(If anyone would like to borrow it, do let me know.)

Posted by ROLAND MCDOLAND at 18:44

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