October 7th, 2012

You Decide

JK Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy"

So, just finished "The Casual Vacancy," JK Rowling's first Post-"Harry Potter" novel.

Reviewers have called it "satirical," but if you go into it thinking you'll be enjoying GK Chesterton-esque chuckles, you're in for some cognitive dissonance.

It's a very dark novel of dislikable, self-absorbed characters whose callousness and casual cruelty becomes ever more repellent -- in truth, this makes it something of a slog.

It climaxes, though, in an awful tragedy and its aftermath, and I, at least, wept real tears for characters I had no affection for, both in enormous tragedy, and in one or two tiny glimmerings of hope.

If you're easily depressed by a work of fiction, you should probably avoid it -- it's a major bummer! -- but it's an ambitious and insightful and savagely, unsentimentally honest novel, a vicious indictment of a society, no more British than American, that views its least fortunate members as refuse, disposable and unclean.

If you can take it, I recommend it, but don't blame me if you end up crying your eyes out.