June 15, 2011: When The Unthinkable Happens

PAGES READ Tuesday to Wednesday (9 days): 80
CURRENTLY READING: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
-2,851 PAGES

The other day I found myself at the dentist’s office without a book. The details (which involve some old issues of Chatelaine and Men’s Health) are almost too horrible to write about, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that if I’d had my book with me, I would be finished by now. As it stands, I’ve got about 15 pages to go. My reading time over the past week has been usurped by the daily activities of life, the Stanley Cup, my initiation into Deadliest Catch, a very long but entirely pleasant evening of musical theatre, and a mild disinterest in the book at hand.

With the end now in sight, I feel I can finally air my honest thoughts about The Finkler Question. The writing is brilliant; there’s no question about Jacobson’s skill. The subject matter has every opportunity to be heavy: the book deals with death and grieving; religious identity and ideology; the complexities of family ties and friendship; geopolitical conflicts and religious tensions that date back thousands of years. And yet, it’s funny. It’s no wonder that Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize in 2010; it’s not just an amazing work of fiction but a great party trick to boot. For some reason, though, I just didn’t love it. Chalk it up to the wrong mindset and stringing the book out over too many months. Please don’t take this as an indication not to read it. It’s really very good.

I’m moving on to Life by Keith Richards (surely ghost-written by someone else?). I’m hoping it will be like literary lemon sorbet after the Russian and will bring me a fresh new palate for summer reading.

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