Saturday, 10 September 2011

46/111 – Bed by David Whitehouse

This was one of the other recent Canongate purchases I made. Again, I bought it because I really liked the cover design and the whole look and feel of the book. I guess they really are doing something right in their design department.

I’m not totally sure how I felt about this book, and so this is probably going to be a pretty short review, because I don’t have all that much to say about it. I read this book when I was visiting my friend Emily in Manchester. I had read a little of it before heading up on the train, but it’s almost a 4 hour journey to get there, so I was hoping to have it finished at some point over the weekend. As it happened, I was about to be struck down with a cold, so I ended up sleeping for most of the journey on the way up there. By the time I got there, I had become so ill that I had to leave a day early to recuperate before going back to work. Moderately ill, but freakishly alert, I finished the rest of Bed and even managed to read the whole of Sarah by JT Leroy, which was also a bizarre experience.

I often think that the pleasure I get out of reading a book is as much a consequence of the circumstances under which I’m reading it as the quality of the book itself. As such, I didn’t really enjoy bed all that much. It was good, but felt slightly floppy and unsubstantial, which is also how I was feeling at the time.

On his 25th birthday, Mal decides not to get out of bed ever again. For the next twenty years, he stays there, growing to over 100 stone in weight as he is waited on hand and foot by his adoring mother. The story is told by Mal’s younger brother, and switches between the present, as Mal waits to give his first television interview in 20 years, and their childhood together.

I can’t remember the name of the narrator, and I’m too lazy to pick up the book right now and find out his name, but I feel like that’s pretty appropriate since he spends his life figuratively and then literally living in Mal’s huge shadow.

The writing was great and it was a fairly interesting idea, but it just didn’t hold me. It wasn’t quite all the way interesting the whole way through, and seemed to sputter a little and just fizzle out. Plus I was ill while I was reading it, so maybe I wasn’t giving it the full beam of my reading powers.

Next: Sarah by J. T. Leroy

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