Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: "Summer House with Swimming Pool" by Herman Koch

Ever since I got back from my trip out east, things have not been going well. Many of the goals I have set for myself have fallen flat, and it is a little hard right now to see any light at the end of the tunnel. I have had some pretty dark moments recently that I am not proud of. And in times like these, it is comforting and refreshing to get lost in a world of make-believe at least for a little while. But as I have gotten older, I have strayed from happy stories and instead find a bit more common ground in some darker material, which brings me to the book I have just recently finished, Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. It is a nasty book to say the least, which will be looked at by the end of the year, (and arguably rightfully so) as the meanest and most hated book of the year. But I liked it, and found great comfort in some of its more brutal passages. In dark times, when someone is thinking thoughts that are not socially acceptable, the feeling you get from reading a book or watching a movie that doesn’t judge you and gives solace in time when you need it most, is elating. But my feelings aside, this is a damn good thriller in the classical sense, where the banality of everyday life is upended by shattering violence and painful revelations about people’s true character. The narrator is Marc Schlosser, is a family doctor who caters to the artistic. One of his patients, famous actor Ralph Meier has just died under his watch. The incidences that have led to his death go back almost a year, where the doctor and his family are invited to spend a week at Ralph’s summer home, where an unforgivable act is committed against Marc’s daughter Julia. A lot of the book’s plot should be kept under wraps, because watching it develop over almost 400 pages is a real delight as Marc dissects, with a cruel eye for detail, all of what begins to happen as his life spins out of control. He is a lot different than the narrator in Koch’s last novel, The Dinner, since Marc really has all of his cards on the table, for better or worse. And when I say that people are going to hate this book, it is because Marc is one of the most despicable main characters you are likely to meet, maybe even more so than the outwardly acting monster that are in this book. But all this makes for a thrilling ride through the muck of human desire, with a few moments ringing so true I had to laugh (the way he describes how long a live play can be is dead-on) and scenes that are equally gross and painful, with the moment Marc has to drain his swollen eye on par with the shin bone dagger from Beat the Reaper. This is a hard book to stomach, I must say, but of you can handle deeply disturbing material with glee even in your darkest moments, this book is just what you need.

Rating: 5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment