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A Book Review My Way — The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is not on the New York Times 2014 Notable Book List.  But it did seem to keep popping up in places and when I checked it out on Amazon, I read this:

“Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this.” —The Washington Post

You want to get my attention, compare something to The Road, which is simply one of the most incredible stories ever written.  Told simply, told starkly, it is a great example of a story stripped to its bare essentials in presenting a dark, miserable world.  It is one of those stories by which I compare all others.  What could go wrong if The Washington Post compared The Narrow Road to the Deep North to The Road.  And this book won the Man Booker Prize, whatever the hell that is.  And it’s got an average rating of 4.3 on Amazon.

And it is a monumental, colossal, unmitigated mess.  Here’s what the Amazon blurb has to say:

August, 1943: Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life, in a brutal Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, is a daily struggle to save the men under his command. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever.

A savagely beautiful novel about the many forms of good and evil, of truth and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

I never got to whatever it is the reviewers loved about this book.  The opening chapters are all over the place.  This is not the spare, stark writing of Cormac McCarthy, this is the meandering mess of something that I had no hope for.  I really wanted to read what that blurb says the story is about — the many forms of good evil, of truth and transcendence — but I just couldn’t keep wasting my time.  Such a mess.  So, lesson learned … to win the Man Booker Prize, write a story that is a mess.




4 responses to “A Book Review My Way — The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

  1. sknicholls February 28, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Have you read The Goldfinch? I’m still struggling with that one.I don’t know if I’m struggling with it because I put it down and go back to it several days later and just can’t get back into it. Or if the reason I keep putting it down is because I just can’t get into it. Read the Look Inside and tell me what you think. I’ll admit, it’s the writing style that’s really difficult for me.

  2. unsolicitedtidbits March 1, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I’ve been disappointed by the Man Booker Prize too. If you fancy a thriller, I just finished I Am Pilgrim. Cheers.

    • kingmidget March 1, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation. It’s been awhile since I read a political thriller. Maybe I need a good page turner. Just wished the mainstream publishers would stop pricing e-books as much as paperbacks. The price of the Kindle version of that book is .50 cents less than the paperback on Amazon. That’s ridiculous.

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