I recently posted about the evolution of the cover design of Julian Barnes’ 2011 Booker winner. Little did I know that the cover and the video montage of the process that led to it would be more enjoyable than the book itself. Though the book has a handful of interesting moments in it, it largely left me feeling decidedly ’meh.’ So much so that now, two weeks after finishing it I struggle to care enough to write about it. On the whole it felt too dull to get worked up about, though I did become a little irritated when Barnes finally introduced a key conflict between two characters then failed to deal with it, or indeed even mention it again, choosing instead to pursue an ending I thought at best contrived, at worst deeply unengaging.
You might argue that I don’t get it but then I’m not alone and have to agree with Geoff Dyer’s New York Times book review in which he explains much more clearly many of the issues I had with the book, closing with this summary:
It isn’t terrible, it is just so . . . average. It is averagely compelling (I finished it), involves an average amount of concentration and, if such a thing makes sense, is averagely well written: excellent in its averageness!
Shame. Still, the cover is still rather lovely. And I have three of the Booker short list for 2011 sitting on my Kindle. I wonder if any of those might have been a more worthy winner.
What’s the most disappointing book you’ve read recently?