Thursday, June 18, 2009

Colm Toibin's Brooklyn

Just finished, tonight, a terrific book.
Colm Toibin’s latest novel, Brooklyn.
My fourth-read Toibin book, and I have loved them all, including this one.
However… this one was different.
For a while I felt as though I was watching Little House on the Prairie! He is so laid back in this thing. I mean… Toibin is a dynamic writer, and it just seems that he is ski-ing down the hill sideways on this one.
UNTIL YOU GET TO ABOUT PAGE 180 [of a possible 262].
Eilis [← love that name] is this Melissa Gilbert-type character that moves from Ireland to America.
It’s the 1950’s [or thereabouts].
It’s not only that nothing eventful seems to happen, but it’s the style that seems to be so [deliberately?] downplayed.
Toibin is one of my favorite writers, really he is. I know that he can be as deep and elaborate as Ian McEwan. It seems that here in Brooklyn, though, he adopted a real down-played style of writing. And yet, it kept me interested.
At times, it was like he was reporting. It was downright Hemingway-esque in its unpretensious journalistic factitiousness. [← Does that even make sense?]
Tolstoyan reality, with Ernest at the keyboard.
But see. I LIKE reality. [And Hemingway, for that matter].
So I liked this book.
And as I say, from page 180 onward, it really picks up.
Several times I had to put the book down, think about my own life.
Wipe my eyes.
To me, that’s always a sign of a good book!



Beth said...

If it reminded you of Little House on the Prairie (book or show) that's a plus for me.

Merisi said...

Oh, book envy of the ugliest kind here! I saw the book here, but at 45 Euros for a trade paperback (that's what they sell to us poor English reading folks abroad!) I said no (all the while whispering, be still, my heart!).

I love Colm Toibin unconditionally, one of the finest writers around. He is also a very kind human being!

Karen said...

Hi - I saw that you posted a review of Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn, and wondered whether you might like to put a question to Colm Tóibín about this book? BBC World Book Club on the World Service is interviewing him on 6th July and would love to hear from you. We’re always keen to get questions from readers around the world with both positive and negative criticism of the books. If you could email me at as soon as you can with a question about the book (anything - doesn't have to be particularly clever!), we can either arrange for you to talk to Colm Tóibín himself, or have our presenter put your question to him for you. Then you get to hear your question on BBC World Service Radio. The programme will air on 6th August at 11.00hrs on the BBC World Service. Please do get in touch.

Best wishes,
BBC World Book Club