Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

The Folding Star, by Alan Hollinghurst

Second paragraph of third chapter:
I took a shower, maddened by the sudden shrinking of the supply, spinning the hot tap and getting nothing but a feeble rope of cold. I stood out on the floor, leaning in through the curtain to test it. Then there was a far-off whining and knocking from the cistern in the roof, and the hot came thrashing back in an instant devilry of steam. Of course! It was my new neighbours at work, their shower had some kind of priority over mine, they could draw my water off and leave me shivering with annoyance.
This was the book that kicked off my sudden interest in the James Tait Black Memorial Prize last week. I thought it was excellent. It's been described as halfway between Death in Venice and À la recherche du temps perdu, but I think that's a bit unfair; yes, the central emotional relationship is the narrator's crush on a young boy, but there's a lot of well observed stuff about art, sex, youth, bars, education, the German occupation of Belgium in the second world war, annoying Spanish girls in the neighbouring flat who use up your hot water, and what it's like being an Englishman in his early thirties living in Belgium who has enough Dutch to get by. The narrator knows that his behaviour is foolish, but he is surrounded by other flawed people behaving equally foolishly, and there are dark secrets that he does not spot until he is led into them. An intense novel of both the soul and body. Recommended.

This was the most popular book in Librarything added to my uread shelves in 2010. Next in that list is Godslayer: Volume II of The Sundering, by Jacqueline Carey, but I wonder if I'll want to leap straight to the middle book of one of her trilogies just after reading the middle book of another.
Tags: bookblog 2016, james tait black prize winner, world: belgium
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