My boredom benchmark for Euro-Lit mysteries in which the writing, translation, publishing, selling & curating of books is cleverly interwoven with philosophical puzzles, mild sex & Real History, is Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, a novel in which almost nothing happens except book-chat, & of which Isabel Allende said, “A treat for the mind”, an assessment I still find puzzling. So far, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Angel’s Game isn’t anything like as boring as that. It’s an amiable meander over the same kind of territory as The Shadow of the Wind, vaguely irritating about the romance & importance of being a hack writer (& indeed about the romance & importance of being any kind of writer) & rather lacking the energy of the kind of fiction it claims to admire; but otherwise entertaining. What I find objectionable about all these novels is how they attempt to flatter the reader by “sharing” –ie, masturbating–the readerly experience. While I’m reading them I want to say: Fuck off & curl up with a good book somewhere else, Carlos (or Pascal), it gets you no points with me, because though I’ve read a lot of books, I’d rather break my left leg than rub shoulders with your idea of what that’s all about.
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