Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"YOU" ~ It Had Its Moments

YouYou by Joanna Briscoe

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sat Jul 28 09:06:41 BST 2012
I need a little bit of intrigue in a book to give me the energy to read through the following acres of prose. Unless the prose itself has such entrancing properties that I can wallow in it at any and any point, I invariably I need bribing. I'm a fish who's too lazy to swim any distance unless somebody's dangling a worm on a hook to pull me through, and the first little worm was the snippet that a school-girl has a raving crush on the English master, whilst her mother  carries on her first lesbian affair with the English master's wife. What a delightful set of ingredients, I thought. With those items loaded into my trolley it wouldn't matter too much at the checkout which plot I selected from the range dangling on their hooks for to select. If plots were sweets, Maltesers would guarantee a thoroughly enjoyable read.

     However, I noticed that the Publisher was Blooms bury and they are a firm with whom I feel that (despite the fact that they do the Harry Potter series and are consequently swimming in far too much money) you can hardly go wrong. My prayer that Maltesers would be the dangle-plot for Ms Briscoe to adopt were swept aside as I looked for something more obscure. I needed a sweet I quite enjoyed as a child but wasn't really sure about. Something like marzipan which I convinced myself I would love once I'd become a proper grown-up. Newberry Fruits sprang to mind. They were a sugar-crusted jelly in lime, orange and lemon and they had a liquid centre which gushed all over your tongue when you bit into them. For some reason I fancy I'd plumped for those. Or had they been pre-selected for me?

     I slogged and groaned over this book, wading heavily through the chick-litty e-pages, which stayed drearily parochial at their best or navel gazing at their worst, not that I have anything against deep contemplation. But you are, I feel, to come to an inner peace, love and understanding when you do that.

     It dragged on and on. I kept looking for something else to do, something tantalizing to read, and managed to get myself thinking, madly, that if I left it alone for a bit it would somehow have magically have read itself on a bit further. The Siren whispers advised me to dump it as there was plenty else for me to enjoy. But I don't do that, and at the time I firmly believed that 'proper readers' simply didn't do it. Nonetheless, by the time I’d reached the halfway mark I was as teed-off as ever and sorely tempted to dump it as 'failed to finish'. When a book does that with me it's in serious trouble.

     It perked up quite a bit at the 60% mark and I sailed through the batch of pages, deciding that I was quite enjoying it really, and that it had reached the 'all forgiven' point, as long as it kept up the pace and didn't slacken its hold. Something more needed to be dangled on the hook now, and I demanded a diet of shrimps followed on by succulent high fat low cholesterol Dublin Bay Prawns.

Unfortunately there was no tasty diet. In true seventies style I found I was munching my way through a slice of wholemeal mung-bean pie, and all I really got was he ocular equivalent of jaw ache. As the story dragged its fuggy hash fog, I began to care little what or who Cecilia’s mystery baby was and by the end of the novel, despite the occasional description which held me captivated, I found that I simply couldn’t care less.

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