The story follows Francis Stein, a widowed American academic, who has been visiting the island for over twenty years, as he records his life, his attempts to save a young prostitute from herself and, just for good measure, his dreams. And then, about halfway through the book, things take a turn for the worse.
This is, according to the blurb, “A kaleidoscopic striptease of the human soul” that will “make you sweat”. It’s also a book that I would probably never have bought for myself. But the nice people at Pale Fire Press asked me to do a review, and I always like to expand my horizons a bit. So, what did I make of it?
Let’s make this clear from the beginning – I’m not the right person to review this book. The writing style is completely out of what I suppose you could call my comfort zone, laden with bizarre lyrical touches, eccentric characters and an overdose of simile and metaphor.
As such, as a book, I don’t think I can give a constructive opinion of it. It’s fair to say that I didn’t “get” it. The language became irritating very quickly, and I found it a genuine struggle to finish, despite it being less than 200 pages long.
But as a murder mystery? That’s my thing, so I should say something about that. Well, that’s not great either. Spoiling a major twist on the blurb didn’t help. It certainly isn’t worth ploughing through the prose just for the mystery.
All I can recommend is that if you’re a reader with a wider range of tolerance to this sort of thing than me, have a browse of the first chapter first – that should make your mind up. But I’m afraid I can’t recommend it at all.