Monday, September 8, 2014

The Finkler Question - Howard Jacobson

Once in a while there comes a book within your grasp that refuses to leave you for quite some time; that refuses to budge from your day to day deliberations and most certainly refuses you the opportunity to liberate yourself from the clutches of its intention cum wordplay cum narrative style.

Having reread the opening paragraph to my five-paragraph long review of / reaction to Howard Jacobson’s 2010 Man Booker Prize Winner, the critically acclaimed, globally renowned, allegedly humorous and supposedly witty- The Finkler Question, I know now what walking in Jacobson’s shoes for a day feels like, given that my introduction, in its utterly deceptive and profoundly misleading manner, is equivalent to, if not greater than, the first sixty or so pages of the author’s novel.

I cannot make myself fucking believe that a piece of racism-obsessed nothingness can bag USD 79000 of Booker prize money purely because it has got the word ‘Jew’ or its recognizable variants i.e. Jewess, Jew’no, Ju, ASHamed Jew, Finkler, so on and so forth strewn across its length with such generosity such calculated and deliberate generosity, a generosity whose deliberateness makes you wonder in awe what powers Jacobson possesses that twist a sentence and turn it on its head thus giving you cheeky yet tremendously philosophical paradoxes to cherish for a lifetime; but more so a generosity the repetition of which makes you wonder if Jacobson- himself a Jew, probably intending through his tedious tale of Julian Treslove, Sam Finkler and Libor Sevcik to show to the world that Jews are simply what the rest of us are, half right half wrong, thus deserving to be treated neither better nor worse (which I get)- ever realized while writing that such unnecessary and abundant mention of his race can be construed as nothing but pompous self-deprecation (which I don’t get).

In short- what the fuck was that man? You lure a trusting reader in with the promise of Wodehousian delights and then about a-quarter-of-a-novel into your gradually flattening narrative, you leave the poor chap standing pants down with his dick in his hand wishing there was more to the story as was promised by such clever an intro that yours is. And what more, you even succeed in making him question his own capacity as a reader as he soldiers through trying to make sense of all the verbal contortions that you are kind enough to litter the prose with which, by the way, add no value to the story while making it even more painstakingly sluggish.

CONTORTIONS THAT MEAN WHAT? Is that what you ask? Honestly, I don’t know. More honestly, having had the displeasure of reading through till the very end, I don’t want to know.

Not cool at all.

And so I end exactly as I began albeit with an addendum to make my reaction a tad less deceptive or misleading-

Once in a while there comes a book within your grasp that refuses to leave you…. etcetera etcetera; that refuses to budge from…. etcetera etcetera and most certainly refuses you the opportunity to….. etcetera etcetera- BECAUSE A FRIGGIN TIRING BORING LACKLUSTRE RUDDERLESS UNTOUCHING AND DISAPPOINTINGLY DISSATISFYING READ IS WHAT THE BOOK IS.

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