Friday, November 21, 2008

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

"This tour de force, which not everyone will welcome, outclasses all other fictions and will continue to do so for some time to come."

Anita Brookner.

I'm only 240 pages in but I think she's right. Last week Dr Rick was telling me how he'd had an argument with a friend about novels of the familiar and oft spouted "but what's the point in reading novels? I want to read the truth!" variety.

We agreed this was a ridiculous argument that misses the point about good fiction (good fiction reminds the reader that Truth cannot be recorded in full - that there are gaps in our experience and understanding) and yet I was left with the lingering suspicion that it was rather a long time since I had read a book that would have met Franz Kafka's criteria. ("A book ought to be an icepick to break up the frozen sea within us")

And then The Kindly Ones arrived in the post and my frozen seas have been well and truly smashed to bits. I can't say I like the book. But I also think it's the kind of book you just can't ignore.

1 comment:

  1. I want to read this book. How far have you gotten?