Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thoughts on (Books): Ghosts: The Story of a Reunion by Adrian Plass

Here's a thing I shouldn't be doing for quite a few reasons! Mainly because it'll probably wear me down before I can get into my daily dose of "Dead Kiss", and also because I finished this book like five weeks ago and really shouldn't be reviewing after the absurd stretches of time I had to put it down before even getting to that point. Regardless, I'm doing it, just to get it off my mind (pfahahaha, nothing ever leaves there).

Even while reading the book I had issue with the names of the characters, and by now I can't recall any of them whatsoever. I think there was an Agatha, I remember a Jenny. That's about it. Maybe a George? This is a pretty common problem I have with contemporary books--even in real life I have a hard time with names. Particularly oh-so-boring everday common names like George. I mean, how many Georges are there in the world, not even considering fiction (and definitely discounting chimps)? I have space for like, three Georges up there: Washington, Jetson, and Milton. Any other George? Just a shadow.

Thing is, I don't think it's exactly the names that made this happen. I think its the absolute lack of character within these characters. They don't have personality. I mean, Plass tried a couple times to give them some, but then they stopped having any. I distinctly remember the characteristics of two characters in this book: one was an atheist, and so was naturally portrayed as an uncultured manchild, and the other wise a short, nervous little man who reminded me somewhat of a turtle, and I chose to imagine him as such. The other characters all had somewhat memorable experiences or phrases, but they didn't have character. There was the gay guy, the girl with the one-time crush (Jenny), the woman who lived in an old house, and the main character. Also some pissed off guy who storms out after clinging around the narrative for about four pages. Pretty sure he left because the cast was already outrageously large for a personality so small.

Don't let the title, or even the intro, fool you. There is almost no horror in this book. Actually, much like the characters, there isn't a whole lot of anything in this book. There is little charm, little personality, zero wit (which is okay, you don't have to be witty to be engaging every contemporary author out there), nothing. Things happen, you're told they happen in extremely long-winded phrases, and that's about it. There is one genuinely creepy instance which is actually a short story framed by the rest of the novel, and later on a fairly creepy scene which mimics it. So it's like, there's two good emotional parts of this book, but one of them is just a repeat. Like, ten pages later.

The other thing that got me is just how incredibly rude everybody is. I get that they're trying to do some kind of honesty counselling thing, and a bit of rudeness is expected to come from that. This book, though, is like two-hundred pages of an Internet debate. It's like I stepped into any heavily-cliqued message board and read two-hundred pages of conversation, complete with shit-posts. Thing is, they aren't just directly rude during the little "share your feels" meetings, but just casually rude. At the end, for instance, the protagonist is ushered out of the mansion he was invited to stay at after hardly saying "good bye". I mean, the woman who invites him there basically says: "Oh, weekend's over. Get the fuck out of my house." Like, what?

Maybe this is some kind of American-reading-Brit-Lit disconnect, but, no really, what? This casual rudeness pervades the entire novel, and it makes me sick. Part of this is in the interactions between the cast (from now on I refuse to call them "characters") but most of it is within the narrative of the primary individual. It is claimed again and again, by himself and others, that the focal cast member is a good, honest, decent human being who gives everyone a chance, but this is only ever told and when it comes to show, we see nothing but a rude, judgmental, barely-passively aggressive person. I am frightened for any people who must spend time within any proximity of this man, he is a serial killer in the making.

The prose itself is okay. Sometimes enjoyable, I do remember coming across a couple passages which I thought were well-written. For the most part, I thought it was dry, overly wordy, and a bit full of itself.

Really, not an enjoyable read. Maybe it's because I'm agnostic, maybe it's because I'm American, who can say? I didn't like it. I don't think most people will like it. It was kind of a mind-numbing experience. I don't feel advanced as a person, I just feel like I lost some hours of my life and I want them back. Please, give them back to me. Three stars. You can have one more if I can have my hours back.

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