Bishan Samaddar's Reviews > The Story of the Night

The Story of the Night by Colm Tóibín
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Jun 21, 11

bookshelves: fiction, homoerotic, gay
Read from June 13 to 20, 2011 — I own a copy

I may not have Mr Naipaul's astonishing ability to judge the gender of writer from the first two paragraphs of a book (nor do I aspire toward such an ability) but I believe I possess a certain capacity to judge the merit of a book after reading a couple of pages.

The Story of the Night struck me immediately as a difficult book—not because it is difficult to grasp but because it's tedious to go through. It is not the tedium of self-conscious style. It is the tedium of the self-conscious lack of style. Mr Tóibín has tried to keep his prose very plain. In doing so he has failed to entice the reader into his narrative. The narrative in itself has tremendous possibility: it can be both implosive and explosive. But in his effort to say things very simply he has lost his audience.

The only time the prose shines is when Mr Tóibín, early in the novel, describes his dying mother. From that point, the book steadily descends into unreadability. I must confess that I could not care to finish the book. Since it came with good recommendations, and also out of sheer solidarity with a gay narrative, I gave the book ample chance to enthrall me but to no avail.

Only if you have no other books to read you can consider plunging into this one. Be assured to find little in the shallowness.

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Chris I agree with you and was very disappointed by this book. The combination of the Argentinian oil business with the rise of AIDS makes no sense and both topics are treated elsewhere much better.


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