November 23, 2008

The Cleft - Doris Lessing

A boring book - I had to flog myself to finish it before it is due back at the library tomorrow.  No plot, no characters of interest - basically nothing to hold my attention.
It seemed to be a conceptual novel - what would it have been like if the first people were all female, and males came along later? - and all of the blurbs on the back had to do with sexual politics etc.  This sort of novel may appeal to other readers, but not to me.
Which makes me ask myself, "What makes a book appeal to me?"  I think that the biggest thing is characters that are interesting; that grow or learn; and that I like, or can at least relate to.  A good plot that grips me also helps.
In this book, the characters are almost archetypal, and have no personality, and so I can't relate to them.  (The one exception being the Roman Historian who is narrating this tale that for him is ancient history, and occasionally interjects with comparisons with his life.)
Interesting that this book was published in 2007, and Doris Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature.  The last book by a Nobel Literature Laureate that I tried to read (a collection of short stories by Nadine Gordimer - Beethoven was One-Sixteenth Black), I stopped reading half way through.  I guess my taste and the taste of the Nobel Prize committee don't overlap!  I do usually enjoy the Giller Prize winners though, and look forward to reading this year's winner, Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden.

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