Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > Elmet

Elmet by Fiona Mozley
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bookshelves: read2017, own, booker-winners-and-listed

When I saw this book on the Man Booker Prize long list, I ordered it from the UK. It sounded like just my thing and had a beautiful cover! My expectations weren't met, exactly, but I still think I would read whatever the author did next. Some of the observations she had other characters make, like when Vivien compares their father to a whale, were rather thought-provoking and unique.

The only other page I marked is a few chapters later, when the narrator is reflecting on the whale analogy after his father hugged him upon his return home (and this is a good example of the writing):
"As soon as he had shaken off his boots, his Goliath arms pulled me into an embrace and I wondered what it would be like to touch a real whale, and knew that despite what Vivien had said, Daddy was both more vicious and more kind than any leviathan of the ocean. He was a human, and the gamut upon which his inner life trilled ranged from the translucent surface to beyond the deepest crevice of any sea. His music pitched above the hearing of hounds and below the trembling of trees."
So that's beautiful writing, to be sure, but it also serves to slow down the pace substantially, and as such I found myself frequently setting the book aside to read something else.

I like how she describes places. I was less interested in the people, unfortunately. I kept getting confused as to the gender of the narrator, although later on in the novel that seemed more intentional maybe. I read the character as female until he started being addressed with a male name and then felt confused! Ha.

This kept reminding me of Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, although the tone of it isn't as ominous, but in a similar way where a father shapes a world for his children to live in, isolated from the rest of the world, their only reality. He builds a home for them on property he doesn't own, although that too is revealed later in the book to be quite a bit more complicated than this guy just being a hermit. And it isn't as if they are entirely isolated, so there is a tension between the life he would like them to have and the reality surrounding them.. he has to work, and is a fighter for money.

Ultimately I would be disappointed to see this one win the prize, because I never connected with it.
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Reading Progress

July 27, 2017 – Shelved
July 27, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
September 9, 2017 – Started Reading
September 9, 2017 –
page 47
October 2, 2017 –
page 150
October 4, 2017 –
page 200
October 6, 2017 –
page 224
October 7, 2017 –
October 7, 2017 – Finished Reading
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: read2017
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: own
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: booker-winners-and-listed

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Canadian I found your comments interesting, particularly your comparing the book to Claire Fuller’s, which I liked less than this.

LeAnne: GeezerMom I'm enjoying the read but am stymied as to what hooked the nomination. Perhaps his early confusion with gender identity??

Dale Am I missing something? Doesn't this "gender identity confusion" come from the alternating viewpoints of the son and daughter, or is it all in the son's perspective?

Jenny (Reading Envy) Dale wrote: "Am I missing something? Doesn't this "gender identity confusion" come from the alternating viewpoints of the son and daughter, or is it all in the son's perspective?"
I was the one confused, I think. I didn't know the pov was changing and it would take a while to figure out whose head I was in.

message 5: by Lizzi (new)

Lizzi Linklater V late coming to the party on this but no, the narrative is told only from Daniel's point of view. I'm interested that some readers thought it alternated between Cathy and Daniel?

Laura Really nice observation, Vivien's comparison, and then Daniel's experience. Good review, thank you.

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