STAR RATING: ★★☆☆☆
BLURB: When we first meet U., our narrator, he is waiting out a delay in the Turin airport. Clicking through corridors of trivia on his laptop he stumbles on information about the Shroud of Turin–and is struck by the degree to which our access to the truth is always mediated by a set of veils or screens, with any world built on those truths inherently unstable. A “corporate ethnographer,” U. is tasked with writing the “Great Report,” an ell-encompassing document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn, he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions. (Goodreads.com)
PAGE COUNT: Approx 180.
The one thing going through my mind when reading Satin Island was how in the world it got nominated for the Man Booker award, and that I’d really like to speak to the people who gave it such high praise. I was reading a review and someone described this book as ‘Flashes of brilliance amid interminable shite.’ which I think sums it up.
This book has no plot, no theme, and no character development. It alienates the reader by talking about topics that are completely inaccessible to the average reader, for example long winded passages based around anthropological terms and examples which made absolutely no sense to me, and infuriated me. It is pretentious drivel and is exactly the kind of book I detest, expecting the reader to just follow along and keep track of all its obscure references. It consists of mini chapters within chapters (e.g. chapter 1.1 etc.), which I actually like as a structure, but the lack of progression and development of the protagonist made it feel a lot longer than it’s short 180 pages. (one of the only things I can commend it on)
U (the main character..yes that’s his name) spends long sections talking about things and imagining situations written with such complexity that it made me feel stupid. I can’t shake the feeling that in disliking this book, I am less intelligent than those who described it as one of the ‘great English novels’, as if my primitive mind needs a plot or dramatic twist and turn to keep me entertained. I feel like I’ve missed something essential which made this book so amazing and it really infuriates me! McCarthy is clearly a talented novelist, I just wish I was able to follow along and get more pleasure out of reading his work.
I understand that this book is more than about plot, that McCarthy is trying to unpick the world in which U lives in, through the eyes of the anthropologist living in a corporate world. I also understand that not all of the greatest books hand you everything on a plate, but I was just naturally drawn to the intermittent passages in which U’s personal life and friends were explored, rather than long descriptions of his daydreams and a more than normal interest in oil spills. At times, it seemed that we would be given something more, in which it seemed something big was about to happen, which failed to.