Tag Archives: Richard Flanagan

When you love a book too much

book of fishI’m a big fan of Richard Flanagan, and never admitted that I hadn’t read Gould’s Book of Fish. I thought it might be too hard, and it received mixed reviews (not that I should be discouraged by that — check out Please Don’t Leave Me Here on Goodreads for a mixed bag. Ay ay ay!)

Anyway, I had some time on my hands after finishing my second manuscript and thought I’d give Book of Fish a go. I so wish that I hadn’t. I devoured it in a few days, and every book I’ve tried to read since seems flat and lifeless in comparison. Having not studied literary theory formally, I cannot comment on Flanagan’s postmodern experimental narrativisation of colonial Tasmania. Nor can I made clever comparisons to Melville, Dickens, Joyce, Faulkner, Dostoevsky or García Márquez. However, I can say that like the Book of Fish discovered by Sid Hammet in a Salamanca junk shop, for me, Flanagan’s writing glitters with a mesmeric, luminous radiance. Gould’s Book of Fish is both magic realism and brutal realism. Beautiful and grotesque. Truthful and fraudulent. I find myself flicking back through the pages, like lost love, for a glimpse of words, a sentence, a paragraph.

I am prone to making silly, sweeping statements, and I know I’ve said it before (after The Narrow Road to the Deep North) but: BEST BOOK EVER.

I’ve been sucked in by the Elena Ferrante hype and started reading one of her books. It’s good, but … I feel like putting it aside and reading Book of Fish again. And again. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to love another book.

Help! How can I move on?

Have you ever loved a book too much?