Wednesday, January 7, 2009


by Joseph O'Neill

This novel does not have a significant plot line to speak of. A Dutch-born financial analyst is living in New York City with his wife and son, but soon after 9/11 she leaves him and goes back to London. He rediscovers his love of cricket and befriends a Trinidadian entrepreneur/(gangster). The strength and the intensity of the novel does not come from following an intricate or explosive plot line. Rather, it comes from the depth of the protagonist's introspection into his life -- his nostalgic earliest memories of playing cricket, his remembrances of his mother and his childhood home in The Hague, his feelings about his opinionated wife and their broken relationship, his bewildered thoughts about New York, and his concerns about his new friend. At times I thought I was reading a memoir of a real person, albeit a memoir that is not arranged chronologically. Hence why the novel proves to be a bit of a challenge -- you must really pay attention. The protagonist may be driving in a car talking to his friend, but something he sees or something someone says turns his thoughts to a conversation with his wife from two years ago, which in turn reminds him of a childhood memory of his mother, and then he's back in the car again. The sentences are complex as well, with multitudes of dashes separating parenthetical thoughts -- I like to use them too! -- and some run on for lines and lines. Unlike most other books, I found myself having to re-read certain sentences and passages. Overall, a deeply satisfying read.

4 out of 5

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