Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan
2013
**
2 stars - I just couldn't finish it, but the author gets an extra star for writing style
ALR Green - nice little terrier in the portion of the book I read


Well, that was frustrating.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is the story of Dorrigo Evans. He's a soldier in the Australian army who is captured by the Japanese during World War II and becomes part of a POW effort to build a railway in Japan.

One of the most frustrating reading experiences I've ever had. Mr. Flannagan's novel is structured in an exquisite fashion. He flops around between times much the way one's own brain is in the past, present, and future at any point in the day. He's got tons of short, meaningful sentences, such as, "A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else." 

The main character, Dorrigo Evans, isn't all that likable. That didn't bother me. Even unlikeable people have interesting experiences and thoughts. What caused me to ultimately toss the book aside after just over 80 pages was the love story. Evans has an affair with his Uncle's wife. I tried to ignore the flat, trite characterization of both the affair and the woman, Amy, but it became too much for me. Yuck. 

In fact all the women in the book (again, at least the part that I read), are given no character whatsoever. The author treats the reader to scenes with men other than Evans which tell us something about them and make them real. The women? They are dull as dishwater. Spiritless characters who only exist through the observations of the men around them. 

Ugh.

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