Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter, by Herta Müller and Philip Boehm

Book cover What the hell have I tried to read? It felt like a Google bot trying to describe random YouTube videos, a meaningless brainstorm of a neural network trained on black and white images, an intentional insult to anyone attempting to make sense of the book. At a mere 260 pages (on my smart phone) I thought that no matter what the subject or writing style, I would finish it, but after 60 pages of understanding nothing and using all my will power to continue, I've decided to call it quits.

It "helped" that I had no idea what I was reading. I just picked a book at random from my library and started it. I didn't know Herta Müller was a Nobel laureate for literature, I didn't know she was part Romanian, nor did I know of the Romanian movie based on the book. I could just read and enjoy the content. Or not. I don't know how I can describe this book in a way that is comprehensible. I had to read the synopsis of the movie in order to understand what The Fox Was Ever the Hunter tried to say! I am Romanian, I've lived through communism, even if I was just a kid at the time, I should have no reason not to at least understand the basic plot of the book, but I didn't get it. Eyes just glossed over the pointless descriptions, unnamed characters identified by body characteristics or clothing, useless details and unrelated chapters. One chapter ended in "The comb's teeth were blue." It wasn't a particular comb, it didn't feature in any interesting way in the story (had it been one), it was just a piece of detail that should have conveyed the lack of interesting things in the gray communist era or something. The book is filled with stuff like that.

Bottom line: I didn't find any positive thing to say about this book. No sentence that made me feel something, no interesting fact, no eye opening writing style, no plot or character that made any sense or brought any pleasure as I was reading it. It was like being so thirsty that you try to drink desert sand. It works just as well as this book. I hate it with fervor.

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