Oh help! Book Group Blues

Don’t worry, I’m not going to sing – blues or otherwise. I just thought I would write a quick post about the Book Group Choice The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson.

I really struggled with this book. I have read the reviews, noticed its prizewinning history, and wanted to read it. But I found it a really pointless book, trying to consider the modern state of being, and failing. I felt it went round in circles; Jacbson seems to have come up with a great thought, wrote it down, repeated it, and then in case we had not appreciated fully, repeated it again a few chapters later. I think it is supposed to be an examination of a man’s (or men, I lost interest) feelings about life, lost love and Jewishness. I could handle the sadness, and the idea of looking at a man’s real emotions was good, but I just felt like shaking the characters and telling them to pull themselves together, or at least I would have, if I could have been bothered.

I got the joke/ image/ metaphor about Finkler. I got the whole thing about real Judaism and aspirational/ ashamed Jews. I noticed the whole problem of losing a spouse. And I found that nothing really worked for me in this book. There wasn’t a real sense of loss, or even when in love, a real sense of gain. Maybe it is because this was meant to be a male book, a book aimed at a different readership or maybe it is simply a matter of not enjoying at all. Still, it arrived with the rest of the Booker shortlist, and I probably would not otherwise have read it, or once started, finished i,t had it not been a Book Group book. So, I suppose it extended my reading list. We shall see what emerges from the discussion tomorrow. I promise not to be totally negative, and find something nice to say. Maybe I read some more glowing reviews…


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