[Updated a few hours after posting when I thought of something I meant to add...]
Thoughts The Dinner by Herman Koch, Hogarth · Imprint of Crown Publishing Group Ltd / Random House 2013 (orig 2009), Translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett, 304 pages eBook
AudioGo 2013, Narrated by Clive Mantle, 8 Hours 55 Minutes
Three words: Disturbing, Alarming, Haughty (not sure a book can be haughty but the main character/narrator certainly could be described as ‘blatantly and disdainfully proud’.)
When Marie told me via Twitter that this is a ‘tough read’ and ‘is disturbing’, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And when I had heard comparisons to Gone Girl, I was most intrigued. I loved Gone Girl!
Well, this one I did NOT love. Yes, it IS disturbing. The narrator of the story (not the narrator of the audio! The fictional character) is condescending and thoroughly unlikable. He comes across very angry, in a way that you know he admires himself on how well he keeps himself in control.
Yea, well. I didn’t like him.
So it was hard to like the book. I would not say I enjoyed it. In fact, for some parts, I felt physically ill.
None of the characters have much going for them, in my opinion.
(Marie’s review is excellent, by the way. She says it is ‘masterfully written’. In fact, she argues for ONE sympathetic character and I will grant her the explanation as valid.)
As for the audio… Narrator is British and did an excellent job. He certainly was able to sound haughty and condescending. I wasn’t too impressed with one of his female voices but it was near the end of the book when I noticed it. Whispersync only worked about half the time, but it IS cool to bounce back and forth from audio to print and be immediately at the spot where you left off. I went back and forth a LOT. Sometimes, the audio was too slow for the pace of the story, if that makes sense. I kept wanting Mr. Lohman (did we ever get his first name? Serge’s brother, Claire’s husband, Michel’s father) to STOP thinking outloud and tell me what is GOING ON.
This book counts as one that happens on ONE DAY. I’m sort of collecting them.
I wrestled with giving it a two stars but also wavered with 4 stars precisely because I do think a book that provokes me so much has something powerful to credit. So I compromised with three. Three slices of CREAM pie. With blackberries, since a dessert in the story provokes one of the characters to push it away.
“Even if this head were to be pelted with rotten eggs, the smile had to remain intact. Even behind the remains of a cream pie pressed into his face by an angry activist, the smile could never, ever fade from the voters’ view.” -p.33, 12%
Also, another reason this book hit me a bit hard was due to a post I read (and reposted) on Facebook and linked here from the blog source: Accidental Devotional’s “The Day I Taught How Not to Rape”. Thank you Jeanne for sharing.
The post talks about how we think teenagers should KNOW about respect. And sex. And what is rape. And all the other things we think nice responsible people should know. And this book also addresses this exact question of whether or not teenagers are CHILDREN or ADULTS. We want to assume they ‘know better’; how do we handle these tough situations when they do not ‘know better’.
p.63 – CHANSONS – song, specifically a music-hall or cabaret song
p.64 – FRÈRE – French for ‘brother’ (figured it out from context but like to make sure)
p.76 – SLIP DE BAIN – French for ‘swim suit’
p.285 – EXCRESCENCES – disfiguring, extraneous or unwanted marks or parts
Question for my Dutch friends – The audio says something that the book wouldn’t clarify but it translated as GAS CAN. It sounded like JELLY can. Explain? Thanks! ***THANKS Laurie! The answer is JERRYCAN. I am a much more visual learner and really needed to see how the word was spelled so I could accurately hear it. NOW I get it!
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