Bye bye Finkler – towards Fingersmith

Well, we had the Book group, and yes, we did decide that The Finkler Question (Howard Jacobson) was far from the most popular choice we have ever had. While the phrase “self indulgent”did occur, alongside “circular”, we did agree that it did suggest several interesting issues such as identity and the nature of Judaism.None of us enjoyed it, but I had at least finished it ( one of our number read it twice…such dedication) I admit that I hadn’t really noticed that it was in two parts; the first lighter and humourous, the second more sombre. I think we all struggled to like any of the characters, and really wondered why it had won the Man Booker. I think that Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel was a much better book.

For various reasons I must admit to not finishing this book yet, and will probably start again. But both book groups have rejected opportunities to read it, mainly on the basis of its sheer size. Maybe now that there are so many  paperback copies around we’ll have more chance. Will she write the second book soon, I wonder?

Next month we are discussing Alan Bennett’s  A Life like Other People’s. Not sure about this selection from one of Bennett’s autobiographical books which I have read.But we’ll see. Looking forward  much more to Sarah Waters Fingersmith. At least I know we have enough copies of these to go round with them both being World Book Night books!

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…