I can’t do it.
I have never dnf’d a book from a publisher before, but The Kindly Ones is SO LONG and I am hating it SO MUCH and there is SO MUCH OF IT LEFT and life is very short. Plus, not having finished it keeps me from reading the books that Random House keeps sending me and they keep sending me some excellent books.
So in honor of Random House’s continued faith in me to be able to read a book, I am giving this dnf its own post.
Reasons Why The Kindly Ones Is Killing Me, And Not In The Good Sort Of Way
It starts off hella slow. When a man tangents off to talk about his bowels before page two, and goes on at length about the beauty of lace looms on page ten, you know you’re in for a long haul, Moby Dick-style.
The narrator is constantly assuming that his audience is judging him, and it gets a little wearing. Of course you’re allowed to have a rich inner life, even if you were a Nazi. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone still running around convinced that the Nazis were all dastardly robots.
The writing is stilted. Sometimes that’s a result of being translated from the French but methinks in this case not. It’s all, This place was like this and then when I got back to this place it was like this instead, and then this happened and then this happened and then this. It’s like a child telling you a story. For nearly a thousand pages.
There are bits like this: ‘And also they drank, the sense of discipline started to unravel.’ That either needs to be two sentences or have a conjunction or a semi-colon or something, right? Because then there are bits like this (paraphrased): Clause, clause; clause; clause, clause, clause, clause. You are not Henry James, Mr Littell. This is unacceptable.
There is a glossary in the back to help you keep track of what einsatzgruppe means, and goldfasanen, and what an OKH is and how that differs from an OKW and an ORPO. The glossary is not my beef, it is the need for a glossary, and that’s not so much a beef as it is an Irritation In A Book That I’m Otherwise Not Enjoying.
I have failed spectacularly, schätzchen, but it is an overwhelming relief to have this off my shelf. Bill Bryson’s At Home and Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye and various other delightful goods may feel free to creep out from under its shadow and be read now. I’m done with this one.
I will not caterpillar this because that can’t be fair.