Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The House in the Forest by Michèle Desbordes

Title: The House in the Forest
Author: Michèle Desbordes
ISBN: 0571217796
Publisher: Faber and Faber
No. of pages: 186
Rating: UNFINISHED - 0/10

Synopsis (from Amazon):
In her cottage in the rain-drenched French countryside, an old woman receives an unexpected visitor: a boy whispering in an unfamiliar language, and bringing sheaves of paper, the letters and jottings of her youngest son. Some time ago her son had done as she had told him, and left to seek his fortune on a Caribbean island. Once there, the promised wealth disastrously eluded him. Soon, not far from the old woman's cottage, the locals see a mysterious stranger, with a boy and a dog, carrying planks into the woods to build a place to live, perhaps a place to die...

It’s rare that I give up on a book so very quickly, especially one as short as this, but I got as far as page 32 and just could not force myself to read another word.

My boredom mostly stemmed from the fact that absolutely nothing seemed to be happening and the narrative (which continually switched between past and present tense) constantly returned to the same image of a man lying dead in a shack and a boy sitting motionless and silent beside him. And this wasn’t the only instance of repetition: Quite often, the sentence used to end one paragraph was almost identical (if not exactly the same) as the one that began the next. This got old very fast.

It was also filled with long sentences broken by far too many commas – I fear Desbordes is an auto-punctuator – which ground my nerves from the very start, as I found I lost track of where the sentence was originally heading.

I can honestly say that I will never be tempted to try reading anything else written by this author ever again. Whatever message was supposed to be conveyed was utterly lost on me.


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