Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Book of the Month - A Little Life


I started reading this book with high expectations – maybe too high to be met. I had read many good reviews and I was told by some close friends that it was indeed a good book. Well, don’t take me wrong, it is. It is good in the same way a glass of moderately cheap wine can be enjoyed on a warm summer night when all you want to do is chill out and look at the stars. And maybe have some deep thoughts. Not too deep though. 

A Little Life is rich of drama and misery. It touches upon many topics our society is having to deal with: homosexuality, child abuse, religion, money, etc. All packed in one book. Too many topics to be taken seriously. Too little nuance to be taken deeply. Jude, the main character, is the dramatic version of Mr Bean. Anything that could go wrong with his life, it actually does! Except for success and money. After all, aren’t we in NYC?! The book starts well, with the right premises and great anticipation of what could happen next. However, there is a point in every book where we actually make our mind up. It’s either a “maker or breaker”. To me the breaking point coincided with the moment when Willem and Jude (stop reading now if you don’t want to know what happens) go from being best friends to being lovers. Soul mates, in fact. Nothing wrong with that but a bit too cheesy for my own liking. I am not even sure someone who endures such a level of brutality and abuse, like Jude has, could have a relationship at all. In fact, I am not even sure he could survive, let alone be so successful and “sane”. 

There is too much going on in this book. By the end, you have the feeling that you are actually watching one of those exciting Fox TV drama series. Very entertaining but not very challenging. You don’t have to think because they do all the thinking for you. Being an Italian, I usually end up making a food analogy. Well, this book is not a McDonald’s, not at all. It’s more like a Cactus meal (for those who live in Canada – Strada, if you live in the UK) – i.e. the more sophisticated version of fast food. A Little Life still makes a good read. But it doesn’t stay with you for long. Two weeks on and it is forgotten. Like your last steak with fries - no matter if it was a Sirloin….