This year's Booker winner by Julian Barnes may have been a slim volume and much trumpeted by readers and reviewers, but I wasn't drawn to read it. It possessed, for me, a nondescript cover, and the blurb failed to capture my imagination. Only when the shop's last copy was passing through my hands did I think I should cut through my reservations and become better informed. I quickly skimmed through the opening pages before passing back to the customer. It didn't grip me so, when the book came back in stock, I still didn't read it.
A friend insisted I borrow her copy. It sat on my bedside pile for some days. Eventually I picked it up and was surprised to find those first few pages were more interesting this time round. Unfortunately, my enjoyment was shortlived.
I am never particularly drawn to the angst of a middle-aged, middle class man, and I didn't like any of the other characters either. The narrator reminded me of Engleby in the book by Sebastian Faulks. The reader never knew whether Engleby was telling the truth, nor did we know his motives or capability, and ultimately he proved a deeply troubling individual. Yet he was fascinating. Barnes's narrator left me feeling tainted, slightly dirty, irritated and rather bored by his preoccupations.
I'm concerned at my response to the book. I don't think I've seen anything negative written about it, and customers and friends seem to have enjoyed it tremendously. I'd read it again to be sure of my response - perhaps I just wasn't in a happy place when I was reading it - but there are so many other books I haven't tried...