J: A Novel by Howard Jacobson

This book was difficult and annoyed me so I couldn’t finish it. I wanted to. I tried very hard to. But I couldn’t.

And I couldn’t work out why I didn’t like it. It’s a romance set in a dystopia and I love me some dystopia where all the commentary is a hard-hitting reflection on our current society. ‘Is it the romance?’ I thought to myself. ‘Because it can’t be, I nearly lost my mind with Gone With The Wind’. And then I realised it was two things:

  • I hated the way the romance was portrayed. I hate that the 25 year old woman was described as a “wild-haired, quaveringly delicate beauty with a fluttering heart” and the 40 year old man that she’s in a relationship with is described as “too serious, hard-going, intense, detached, and maybe a bit prickly”. I hate that neither of them could appreciate what they have without overthinking everything like how to look after paper flowers.
  • I also couldn’t read the prose; there are too many dramatic implications about something much bigger. And this was really upsetting to me because I always pride myself on being able to read the fancy stuff.

It’s a real pity because I really enjoyed the dystopian aspect to it, I loved all the little hints that society has just gone to the shits:

  • The fact that each race has its own specialty based on real life stereotypes like only the Indians are allowed to fix electronics.
  • That everyone is actually kind of immature and constantly cheating on each other and everyone just accepts this.
  • The unacceptable music and books aren’t necessarily banned, it’s just that exposure isn’t exactly encouraged.
  • The fact that the protagonist doesn’t pronounce the letter J without pressing two fingers pressed against his lips,
  • And of course, the constant mention of the WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED. What happened?? I need to know.

This is quick and short on the account that I didn’t finish. Again, I’m glad that I borrowed this novel although I grudgingly concede that buying it would have looked great on my bookshelf for pretentious reasons.


On Another Note

I’m going to keep trying to read “Literature” even if it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that it’s probably out of my league. I’ll just slowly work my way up and maybe re-attempt “J: A Novel” later.

2016-05-07 21.10.37


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