J: A Novel

J: A Novel - Howard Jacobson J was a story about a man and an occurrence. WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED is something mentioned throughout the story and it affects everything. This story involves a civilization without memory, without much hope for happiness and without much excitement. I wanted to love this tale. I enjoy most dystopian tales, but this story did not excite me. In making the characters the author created people that were devoid of passion for anything but mere survival.

Kevern is the hero of this story and his life borders on eccentricity with moments of normal. Ailinn is the heroine, the beauty who caught his eye, but she has her own heartbreaking story or abandonment in childhood. This book had my attention, and then lost it. I really had to force myself to keep reading this book. The thing is that nothing really happens in this book. This book has flat characters doing nothing special. When I say the characters are flat, that is putting it mildly. This book might appeal to scholars who love their fifty cent words in descriptions, but I believe most of the population will not enjoy this book as whole. It is too easy to get lost in the language. It might take a whole chapter for a conversation to occur.

It is a book meant for mature audiences not because of its context, but more due to its adult themes. Only boring/dull adults can understand the acceptance of opportunities missed, roads that must be taken, and settling for “good enough” to get by. Although I didn’t enjoy this book much, I keep reminiscing about the characters, who as a dull adult myself, I can wholly relate to. How unfortunate. Body image, embarrassing family ties, abandoning lovers, suspicion and fretting about nothing much. I hated myself for liking bits of this tale. It just shows how far from excitement my life has wandered, and how much I love words. Language in this book flourishes, unchecked.

I don’t believe for one minute that this many people self-analyze in any civilization, much less a society such as this. Memory is supposed to be forbidden and heirlooms are inventoried. Yet some of the characters collect the past and regurgitate it for money. I never got some of this tale, and I suspect I never will. This book was hard to read. Details were thrown together seemingly for the reader’s enjoyment, but it lost me in its fanciful telling. I know I am in the minority since this book/author has won some awards, but his just isn’t my kind of story.