With some reservation I finished this peculiar novel.
Having read a few titles by QSC, this one surprised me in its focused content. The reasons I did not enjoy it as much as his other books are manifold, and I think the right reader will get a lot out of it.
A few comparisons came to mind during my reading experience: Soseki’s Botchan, in the depiction of the school setting, and Lolita. While Crisp’s style easily compares to Nabokov, the plot and perspective of the novel may turn some readers off. Crisp may be a journeyman or intermediate-master of the English language, but the naïve narrator and self-deprecating interior monologues were a tad tedious in my opinion. It could just be that my attention span is infantile, but I found my interest flagging often. Soseki is guilty of the same vice – dwelling on mundane details, overexplaining where subtle cues would engage the wide-eyed reader. I don’t mind that cruelty and heinous bullying underlie the novel’s message, themes, and events. Popular literature is rife with sleazy boarding school brutality.
For me, the limitations of its storytelling outweighed its linguistic merits. Unlike Lolita, it does not partake of the singular worship of beauty, but reaches for an aesthetic precision reminiscent of that classic.
That being said. I have already decided to read everything by this author.