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Found 4 results

  1. Strange Hotel is Eimear McBride's third novel. I loved A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, written in an unusual and accomplished stream of consciousness technique. The Lesser Bohemians was a lesser novel, still applying the stream of consciousness technique but feeling rather more knowing. Strange Hotel simply doesn't work for me. Strange Hotel follows an unnamed woman staying one (maybe more) nights in hotel rooms around the world. She seems to have no purpose, no job and very little in the way of a past. Maybe she defines herself by a former relationship that she tries to avoid thinking about. But there's not much to latch onto. And she witters to herself while the novel - mostly written in third person - tries to carry off this interior monologue. This is often about men she has slept with in these hotel visits, sometimes not. There is no plot, no discernible character development, no resolution. Most of the narrative is deliberately opaque to the point that it might as well be rhubarb rhubarb. And in terms of interior monologue - nobody thinks or speaks that way. It isn't convincing. The novel is short enough that I kept reading to the end to see whether it would all come together. In some ways the pattern became clearer, but there was no rhyme nor reason why the pattern was being followed. There was no moment of reveal, and no particular sense of understanding to be had. *0000
  2. Strange Hotel is Eimear McBride's third novel. I loved A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, written in an unusual and accomplished stream of consciousness technique. The Lesser Bohemians was a lesser novel, still applying the stream of consciousness technique but feeling rather more knowing. Strange Hotel simply doesn't work for me. Strange Hotel follows an unnamed woman staying one (maybe more) nights in hotel rooms around the world. She seems to have no purpose, no job and very little in the way of a past. Maybe she defines herself by a former relationship that she tries to avoid thinking about. But there's not much to latch onto. And she witters to herself while the novel - mostly written in third person - tries to carry off this interior monologue. This is often about men she has slept with in these hotel visits, sometimes not. There is no plot, no discernible character development, no resolution. Most of the narrative is deliberately opaque to the point that it might as well be rhubarb rhubarb. And in terms of interior monologue - nobody thinks or speaks that way. It isn't convincing. The novel is short enough that I kept reading to the end to see whether it would all come together. In some ways the pattern became clearer, but there was no rhyme nor reason why the pattern was being followed. There was no moment of reveal, and no particular sense of understanding to be had. Basically, it seemed to be a novel about a woman wasting her time and ours. *0000
  3. Review of The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride McBride's second novel after A Girl is a half formed thing sees a young woman move to London to study acting from Ireland, there in London, she meets an older famous actor and they start seeing each other. The older actor is a bit more experienced than the young Irish woman. In most of the novel, the writing is splendid at times, a little bit of humour sprinkled in it in parts but some of it made for particularly difficult and distressing reading especially in the middle of the book from the friends view, that was tough reading from an emotional point of view and because of it, I''m cautious to recommend this book. But at times later, rather than focusing on this dificult or distressing nature, I get a bit of a feeling of hope from novel, hope for better, hope for love, hope for redemption. This isn't a book for everyone, there is also a fair bit of sexual content in it too but it is a good book. McBride shows good attention to detail in her writing. Rating wise, I'm unsure of whether this should be a 3 or a 4 so to settle it, I give it: * * * 1/2
  4. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, proudly bearing a quote from Anne Enright on the front cover of the Australian edition, reminds readers of what The Gathering might have been. The style is experimental. Verbs are scarce - apparently Eimear McBride wanted to portray just what the girl saw - and sentences tend to be fragmentary. In particular, in the opening sections when the girl is a young child, the ideas are not even half-formed and the narrative is hard to follow. The reader has to read between the lines. Later on, as the girl passes through teenage and on to young adulthood, the ideas are clearer and the narrative has a firmer shape. This could be a relief, except that the subject matter becomes darker and darker as the narrative clears. Growing up in rural Ireland some time ago (exact timing is not clear, probably 1980s/1990s), life has dealt the girl a modest hand. There are people in the world far worse off, but there are others who have landed up with broader horizons and happier home lives. The girl's father has died; her brother is a brain tumour survivor; her uncle is creepy and her mother lacks any strength of resolve. Despite this, the girl manages to fly the nest and study across the water. The novel does have a plot - and a slow-burning shocker it is too - but the strength is the use of this extraordinary narrative style to build a world and build a person. It is not so much about what happens to the girl as about how it affects the girl. How and whether it changes her development. This is the joy of the title - we see a young person with a distinctive personality nevertheless being moulded and shaped as she grow by those around her. Right up until the end, it's not quite clear what the final shape will be, how nature and nurture will resolve their struggle against one another. The narrative style does come with frustrations too. There's no point pretending that there weren't times that I wanted to throw the book across the room, slowly plodding through a soupy mire of abstractions. There were times one wanted to tell Eimear to just get on with it - especially the first half of the final section feels overlong. But miraculously, it is all pulled back at the end; all the effort seems worthwhile and the flabby sections no longer feel flabby. There is great beauty in the novel, but you only appreciate it by standing back at the end and seeing the whole. Does that sound pretentious? There have been comparisons made to Joyce and Beckett. I can see that, though this is not as abstract as Finnegan's Wake, not as narrative as Ulysses and a whole lot warmer than Beckett. If anything, it reminded me of Edna O'Brien's Country Girls or John McGahern's The Dark - provincial and unexpectedly primitive, but with bright lights of opportunity shining through at times. There is a risk that Girl is a derivative, imitative work that will be dismissed as a fraud. But right here, right now, it feels like a genuine, authentic article that represents the emergence of a monster talent. If I had doubts when I laid the book down, they are evaporating by the hour. Girl has the hallmarks of a major work of our time. *****
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