Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Book Club: The Luminaries
So reads the blurb on the back of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries. The story was incredible, definitely deserving of the Man Booker Prize it won. It was also unbelievably long and complex. This lead to several things:
1) I was in perpetual awe that this behemoth was written by the youngest author to be awarded the Man Booker, 28 year-old Eleanor Catton (though it did take her 5 years to write...so maybe that's even more awe-inducing?!). It's size made it unwieldly to read in bed and almost embarrassing to read in public, thanks to it's similarity in size to trashy romance novels (however, The Luminaries is much bigger at 832 pages). I took the paperback version with me on a few trips and, without fail, every person who saw me reading did a double-take.
3) The complexity of this book's structure blew me away again and again and again. Wow. The shape of a piece of writing is something that fascinates me, and this novel was a true piece of art with regards to structure. The story is so intricate that it can be confusing until you hit a point where certain things fall into place enough to motivate you to keep reading to see how the next pieces of the puzzle will come together.
Catton used star charts from the late 1860's to create her framework, saying in an interview in The Lumiere Reader, "I chose each star chart deliberately, with a view to how I could use it, and I relaxed my hold wherever I needed to. I painted myself into a corner a great many times, and was often stuck for weeks, frustrated, staring at the pattern...". She was dedicated to her framework, and it shows.
If you like reading through puzzles, then this might be a book for you. The length of the book definitely makes it more of a commitment, but then again, commitment often has its rewards.
Have you read The Luminaries, or is it on your to-read list? What are you reading now?