I will admit up front that I did not expect to like this book. A few years ago, a book blogger’s review led me to believe that both the style and subject matter would probably not appeal to me. But in my quest to read all Booker Prize winners, I knew one day I’d have to give it a try. And so I did. Fifty pages later, the style and subject matter were not appealing to me. Not in the least.
I’ll pad this non-review with the product description from Amazon.com:
Fascinating…an extraordinary mixture of historical detail and sexual meditation…G. belongs in the tradition of George Eliot, Tolstoy, D. H. Lawrence and Norman Mailer.” — The New York Times
In this luminous novel — winner of Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize — John Berger relates the story of “G.,” a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan’s success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him. All of this Berger sets against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi and the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War, and the first flight across the Alps, making G. a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in history’s private moments.
That sounds pretty juicy, but by the time I gave up on this book “the principal protagonist” (as he is often referred to) was still a little child. Yet he had already been aroused by the feeling of his head leaning back against his governess’ dress. Um, yeah.
The description led me to believe this would be a character-driven novel, but it quickly became apparent this would be a novel of ideas. That’s not a bad thing, but combined with the choppy writing style, this book really didn’t work for me.
I feel a bit guilty not sticking with this longer, but it simply didn’t hold my interest and, after all, reading should be fun.