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World's End by T.C. Boyle

World's End is beautifully written, crafted with much care and a great attention to detail. The writer is obviously talented. Nevertheless, it is not an easy book to read. This novel gave me nightmares. Literally. It handles some difficult topics, from addiction to violence, from racism to modern politics. It is not a light read, that's for sure. I don't regret reading it, though. I'm glad that I didn't gave up on it, even if I was tempted to do so. This novel is well worth the trouble.  One thing I'm sure of - T.C. Boyle is a writer I need to read more from. This was actually my first novel by this author, but it probably won't be my last. I'm really looking forward to reading more from him.




Here follows what I wrote about this novel on my Instagram account about a week ago (first impressions are always important!): 'I have finally read it! T.C. Boyle is without a doubt, an uniquely talented writer! World's End is an ambitious novel, with a very complex narrative that is extremely well written. Reading it was anything but easy despite the beauty of its language. At times, this book is so bleak and depressive, it gives one a feeling of a bad hangover. On the other hand, it feels brilliant. It is a novel I won't forget easily. '

What kind of novel is it? To start with, it is an award winning novel and one that deserves its awards. It is  a novel with a complex narrative that spans over three centuries.  A family saga of sorts, one in which history has a way of repeating itself. Sometimes every chapter is a voyage into history. World's End tells the story of several generations of three families living in the Hudson valley area. If that makes you think Faulkner, you're on to something. There are definite similiarities between this novel and those masterpieces of Faulkner's.  World's End did make me think of Faulkner and his family sagas a number of times. The narrative is not written in the first person but you really get that sense you're inside of the head of each character. You follow them through their dreams and nightmares. You are privy to their most intimate thoughts- and at times those can be quite distributing. However, there was never a moment when I felt that some 'nightmare' or 'hallucination' was out of place nor did I feel that all the 'heavy stuff' was there only to achieve a shock effect. Everything seems to be there for a reason. For example, every thought and/or hallucination makes sense, at least in the head of the character. It is just that characters themselves are not exactly mentally stable. This perhaps gives this novel its 'nightmare' feel.

 At the beginning of the book, there is a list of characters- and it exists with  a good reason. There are many characters in this book. They are well placed within the story, but they're abundant. So, be glad that list of characters exists. I didn't need to check it, because I have a pretty good memory and I was really focusing on the reading. I had a feeling that if I let my mind slip, I would miss out on something important. I felt that the only way I could read this novel was by devoting my complete concentration to it. So, I did that. I really dived into this one and I have no regrets- even if the process of it was somewhat depressive. That would be the only downside to this book. It is a depressive read. Man, it's bleak. I can't imagine it lifting anyone's spirits.

Now, let's get back to the good things about this book. I love how ambitious this novel is. Telling a story that spans generation is never an easy task. Telling that story from the perspective of different individuals makes it even more complex. When you add the complexity of the theme to the mixture, you can see how ambitious this novel is. It digs deep, both into individual and collective subconsciousness. Psychological characterization is very much the foundation of this novel. Genetics also play an important part,  in the sense of inherited characteristics. There is a very tangible obsession with history in this novel. Historical is linked with psychological in an intimate way. As I said, World's End  reminds me of Faulkner, both in the selection of its themes and in the writing style itself. 

I have to conclude that T. C. Boyle is a very talented writer. He crafts the story with ease. He doesn't make it easy to follow, but he makes it fit all the craziness it deals with and that is not an easy task. There is a lot of craziness in this book. A lot of deeply troubled people. In fact, most of these characters you probably wouldn't want in your house. They're not the kind of people one can easily sympathize with, but you can understand them. Making the story populated with a lot of troubled characters flow is not easy. Boyle managed to do that and I complement him for it. This novel is very close to being a masterpiece. Perhaps it even is a masterpiece. I did feel like something was missing, but that could be just me. In many ways, it is such an impressive piece of writing.


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