First off, please listen as author Claire Messud, a guest on NPR's "All Things Considered," tells us why "You Must Read This." She speaks so eloquent,...moreFirst off, please listen as author Claire Messud, a guest on NPR's "All Things Considered," tells us why "You Must Read This." She speaks so eloquent, having found the way to convey just what her heart knows to be true, finding the means to describe such a complex mix of words, character, structure, book, creativity, obsession, genius. [Well, okay, she IS a writer : ) ]
This book and the reviewing of it has been in the forefront of my mind, the back of my mind, the middle, top, never forgotten, over the course of this entire year—I read it in January, again in March. I simply haven't felt up to the task. The reasons are varied. One: this book turned out to be the most important book I've ever read. Easily my 8, 9, 10,000th read. A lot of books preceded this one. This book, "The Loser" was fundamentally different, in a very profound way. A surprising one. But first, listen to Claire Messud.
Okay, I hope you listened to [or read] her passionate review. One small excerpt:
"It is a book about anger. A book without paragraphs, which in its very form enacts anger. A book prone to wildly long sentences, preposterously violent judgments and enraging constructions. A deeply musical novel, about music — about Glenn Gould, or a fictional Glenn Gould, with all the structural complexity of The Goldberg Variations, to which allusions are repeatedly made. The Loser is willfully oppressive and agonizing to read, hilarious and awful by turns. And, above all, it couldn't care less about the reader."
A Deeply Musical Novel
That's what it was for me. It sang. Behind the WORDS, there was a maniacal symmetry, a construct of pure poetry throughout the novel that awed me. Almost overwhelming. Almost. He is such a genius with structure he can up the pace that carries you along until you think you cannot read another sentence, you MUST put this down, and at just that moment, ALWAYS, the pitch changes. Or, he'll slow you down completely. "...he said, just like Glen would, as he stood at door, slowing down was so like The Loser, or so Glen said, but then Glen liked everything fast, and The Loser was just that, slow, he thought, while he waited at..."
His pacing is impeccable, his characterization truer than life, the story flows, nihilistically bitter to the end, an ode, a homage to greatness, and the almost greats, and to music—in more ways than one.
Until I read Thomas Bernhard, I didn't realize Novels could sing. Not like poetry. Not throughout the length of the book. Not like the beating heart of a metronome. Now I know different. All natural, gifted writers have this inner, musical beat. Now I'm ready for it.
I'm sad for all those 8, 9, 10,000 books that didn't get read like a song. A lifetime of missed beats.
One last excerpt from Claire Messud:
"The greatness of a great book is untranslatable. I cannot tell you what is extraordinary about The Loser. You must read it for yourself. You will not find it pleasant. You may not find that it speaks to you with the immediacy and the insistence that it speaks to me. But you will certainly find that it speaks searingly, fearlessly and comically. It puts us inside the head of a coldly embittered man, who aspired to be a great pianist — until he heard Glenn Gould play, and realized he could never be as good. It is, you see, about being talented, and still being a loser."(less)
Like another reviewer stated, "it shaped them, molded them into the future beings they would become." I may be paraphrasing a bit, but this is exactly...moreLike another reviewer stated, "it shaped them, molded them into the future beings they would become." I may be paraphrasing a bit, but this is exactly what the book "Exodus" did to me as well. I first read this as a young girl, probably after reading "Diary Of Young Girl, Anne Frank." which would of meant I was around 11 or 12. I read Anne's story right after visiting the site she hid all all those many months, only to have it end so futilely. As we were living in Germany there were no shortages of reminders of the tragedies that had occurred there only 30 or so years prior to my own arrival. An avid reader, even then, Leon Uris set the tone for my creative quest as well as my unflinching search for knowledge for many years to come...actually, up to this very day. He was, oh wait he still he is a brilliant writer. I hope readers everywhere and from every generation continue to read his passionate, accurate, thoughtful and well-crafted books for many, many years to come. He is a Master Story-Teller of The Highest Order, and it does not get much better, ever, than that.