Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: "The Luminaries" by Eleanor Catton

Since I have been reading at an accelerated pace, I have been getting books done quicker, but I have been spending more hours of the day reading than I ever have been, making some books much harder to get through. And that is the case with Eleanor Catton’s mega-bore fest The Luminaries, easily the worst book I have read this year that is not actually the worst, and one of the most head-scratching prizewinners in recent memory. Not to sound trite, but if this book wasn’t as long and not written by a female as young as Catton, I doubt this book would get the praise. It is overstuffed, needlessly confusing, and doesn’t even have the decency to be interesting as it continues to fail page after page. This is essentially a literary stunt, and I don’t mind those: some soar like House of Leaves, some don’t like The Kindly Ones, but I haven’t seen one that has fallen from such a height as this. The story revolves around a man named Walter Moody, who comes to the New Zealand village of Hokitika to find his fortune in the goldfields, there, he finds himself immersed in a weird series of events involving a murder, a suicide and twelve men who each somehow represent phases of the moon. Some will call this book inventive, and it is, but it is not much else. It is a series of events that somehow connect, but I was too bored to notice. I’d compare my feelings of this book to those of another Booker Prize-winning novel, Wolf Hall, in that it works best if you like the time period. The only scene in the book that stuck with me was a conversation about an séance in a house that revealed a well-hidden murder. Other than that, this was an 800-page drive through an empty literary highway that I don’t recommend at all.

Rating: 2/5

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