There was a time when I’d beat myself if I abandoned a book part way through. These days, not so much. As a general rule, if it hasn’t grabbed me in the first couple of chapters, I close the pages and move on. The fact that my latest rejection is Anna Burns’ Booker winning novel, ‘Milkman’, makes no difference. It’s back on the shelf. Maybe I’ll tackle it another day.
Unlike the challenge presented in Eimear McBride’s ‘A Girl is a Half Formed Thing’, Burns’ book has strained rather than stimulated. I was constantly losing track of the story and rather than being drawn closer to the characters, felt myself floating away from them. The colour, which I sensed to be vivid and intense, became obsurred by lingual layers. In a review, one of the Booker judges encouraged readers to persevere. The view from the top would be worth the steep climb. Sadly I got out of breath about 60 pages in.
On the flipside of this experience, I’ve discovered the most wonderful TV adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s ‘My Brilliant Friend”. I never got around to reading this one, and in a way, I’m glad. This miniseries is proving to be one of the best things I’ve watched this year. If you have access to Sky Atlantic, I urge you to take a look.