Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Finished it. The last third is as good as anything he’s done, which is to say very good indeed. He habitually writes in short stories, linked short stories presented as novels, like my last book, TENDER. 1000 Autumns is essentially three novellas, the first weak, the second an improvement, and the third excellent. So, a qualified recommendation. But there’s a humanity underpinning his writing, a belief that honesty and kindness are the best options in human relationships, that I find very attractive. He's not interested in cheap, attention-grabbing tricks, melodrama introduced to make the plot work, or as an excuse for some purple prose, his stories are inventive and surprising, the ideas bubbling beneath them are always at least interesting, his language is beautiful and distinctive, his characters engaging and his research – which I was a bit snippy about below – unsurpassed. And they're about to start filming his masterpiece, CLOUD ATLAS, I believe. Films of books, that's a whole different discussion ...

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