Welcome back to my ‘Let’s Have a Look’ series. Where I post on a topic or incidence I come across that triggers a need to share and/or respond from me.
So in this post, my curiosity was sparked one night as I was checking out an author’s book when I saw him interviewed on TV – Salman Rushdie, to be precise. Well, when something catches my ear, I like to have a look around Amazon for their books, and if the blurb grabs me, I then go right to reviews (See! That’s how important reviews are ) which always give me a better insight as to what to expect from the book.
Sure, reviews are opinions, but when you read quite a few, you get a general consensus and better feel of what the book is really about, a better assessment to learn whether or not the book is a good fit for us. Now, there’s always going to be the odd, usually unjustified low star review for a mostly 4 and 5 star rated book, that’s inevitable, just ask an author. But often, those reviews will stick out like a sore thumb among all the golden reviews because often, when that happens, a reader doesn’t care for the genre (of which they should have checked first, again, that’s what real reviews are for) or they may be disgruntled at the seller in actuality because they weren’t happy with their delivery. Or quite possibly, some just won’t always like our books, our writing styles, our subject matter – you get the drift. Reviews are personal and yet, when the majority of them are either high stars or low stars among scattered opposites, that’s generally a good indicator of the happiness factor of the book.
So I digress (as usual), but what I was initially getting at is, before I buy a book, I don’t just want to read the author’s blurb, I want to get a feel for what others got out of the book, what they liked or loved or didn’t, to help boost my decision to want to read that book.
I love reading reviews, they tell me what I want to know about a book and often help my decision to either read or not read, regardless if it’s free or not. I have enough books on my Kindle right now to last me the rest of my life, lol. I don’t need to fatten it up with books I’ll probably never read when everything on there are all books I want to read.
So anyway, digressing again, from reading reviews, I sometimes come along a review that I find so refreshingly honest and somewhat more is not less, and quirky, but nonetheless, an insight or two not usually repeated in other reviews making it all the more genuine. So I thought it would be fun to highlight one of these interesting comments I came across that caught my interest. It was what prompted me to write this post while checking out Rushdie’s books, of which I’m familiar about his writings, but have yet to read one of his books. And after reading several reviews for one particular book I was looking at, I came across this one:
This almost sounds like something I’d write, because I find Rushdie’s books so deep sometimes I get lost. I can so relate, especially the highlighted parts I’ll discuss after ‘Erb’s’ review for Salman Rushdie’s novel, Quichotte.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
Quichotte is a love story of profound tenderness and humanity from a great storyteller at his brilliant best. Wise, beautifully written, as heartbreaking as it is wildly comic, its characters unforgettable, its plot dazzlingly suspenseful, it illuminates our corrupt times where fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.
Quichotte, an aging travelling salesman obsessed with TV, is on a quest for love. Unfortunately, his daily diet of reality TV, sitcoms, films and soaps has distorted his ability to separate fantasy from reality. He wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence, while obsessively writing love letters to a celebrity he knows only through his screen. Together the two innocents set off across America in Quichotte’s trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love.
Quichotte’s story is told by Sam DuChamp, a mediocre spy novelist in the midst of a midlife crisis, and as the stories of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine, we are taken on a wild, picaresque journey through a familiar country on the edge of moral and spiritual collapse.
Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2019
“In 1989, I tried to read Satanic Verses, and while years later I sort of got through it, it was at such a low level of comprehension that I should be embarrassed to even use the word “read” in this context.
So a few years after that and I was offered this review copy of Rushdie’s new book, and I decided I’m a smart person now, and very well read, and I can certainly appreciate Salman Rushdie’s obvious writing skills as who I am today.
The answer remains “no, I can not.” That’s entirely my fault – my interests are nonfiction or fairly straightforward fiction as opposed to experimental or stylistic fiction like Rushdie has generally been known for. No doubt one of his books would prepare me for his style in a slightly more accessible way but I haven’t read it. I probably should give “Joseph Anton” a try.
So this reminded me of Marlon James “A Brief History of Seven Killings” that was hugely praised and award winning and that I totally couldn’t connect with no matter how hard I tried. In a similar vein with this book, I tried to start at the beginning, then I tried to start in the middle, and I tried to jump around and I couldn’t figure out what was going on, or even what I was supposed to be thinking.
Look – I did not give it any sort of truly honest effort. I gave up. It was too hard, too detailed, too stylized – it demanded an investment from the reader that I am simply not prepared to give. So if you think I sound like you, then you’re probably not going to be the audience for this book.
But – if you’re ANGRY at me, and you think I’m a big joke and an uneducated lazy rube – THEN maybe the book IS for you, because you’re the type of reader who will go into Rushdie with your eyes wide open in a way that I didn’t.
So I tried, I failed, maybe I’ll try again one day, but this book’s just not for me.
I’m giving it four stars because OBVIOUSLY he can write at a supreme quality – I would say every sentence went through ten drafts. Any oblique meaning on his part is totally intentional – he wants this to be an off-kilter Don Quitote experience…so it’s no accident. It IS well-done, but it is NOT for casual readers or the hoi polloi like me.”