Friday, October 14, 2016

The Lesser Bohemians

Title:  The Lesser Bohemians
Author:  Eimear McBride
Publication Information:  Hogarth. 2016. 320 pages.
ISBN:  1101903481 / 978-1101903483

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I move."

Favorite Quote:  "I wish that I was someone else, a girl with words behind her face, not this one done up like a stone in herself."

The plot of The Lesser Bohemians is a fairly simple one and not all that unusual. An eighteen year old Irish girl named Eily comes to London alone to enter drama school. She meets a seasoned, thirty-eight year old actor named Stephen. A relationship ensues, first physical and then emotional. Along with the relationship come their back stories - the grief and baggage they both carry. Is the relationship just a physical release? Is it love? Will it survive? Does it need to? How will the two be impacted?

With nothing really new or different in the plot, this is a story that has been told many times before. What makes this book unusual is the writing style and the details that are developed in the book. Unusual can sometimes be a really good thing and sometimes not. In this case, unfortunately, the things that make this book unusual also make it not the book for me.

The writing style of the book consists of short, choppy thoughts with inconsistent capitalization and punctuation and no regard for grammatical constructs. Added to this is a lot of gratuitous cursing and repeated use of f***. It is like listening to a staccato beat with jarring notes sprinkled throughout for the over 300 pages of the book with no relief. This book is hard reading.

In addition, large sections of the book are essentially monologues as the two main characters tell each their histories. This means that for those long sections, the reader is being "told" a story rather than being shown or being made part of the story. Stephen's story is more lengthily told, but Eily is the narrator of the book; this adds even further distance between reader and story. It takes a lot of work to stay with the book because of this writing approach.

The "details" of this book are very graphic in nature. Much of this book is about physical relationships - consensually sexual ones and brutally physically abusive ones. Both are described in explicit and lurid detail. I would mark this book with a "xxx" rating even though the scenes occur so frequently that they start to sound the same and almost mundane. I don't know what to say except that this kind of reading is just not for me, and in this book, these scenes are the story.

This book is billed as a love story of two damaged, scarred, individuals. Unfortunately, I never do feel the love or any emotion through the characters. I form no attachment to either character despite their tragic backgrounds; I don't really care how the story turns out. Their scars are laid bare; the physical attraction is laid bare. Somewhere though, the love story and the individuals underneath the physicality go missing. It is lost in choppy beat of the book and in the focus on the physical descriptions.

My favorite part of this book is the cover of the book itself. I wish I had left it at my admiration of the cover.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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