Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Book Review: Giraffe by J. M. Ledgard

In this novel a herd of giraffes are captured in Africa and shipped to a zoo in Czechoslovakia in 1975. After settling in well a contagious disease is discovered to have accompanied the giraffes and a saddening ending is the result. Seemingly this is a book about the secrecy, laziness and inefficiency of a communist state, but in reality it is a book about nothing at all. The problem with "Giraffe" is that nothing happens and the characters do almost nothing and do not interact with anyone until the final few chapters. The author, instead, fills the book with 200 plus pages of dreamlike waffle and irrelevent observations, over -reliant on metaphor and simply boring: I found it very difficult to maintain an interest in large portions of the book, although this didn't prevent me from following the story as there is no story.

A first person narrative is used throughout and the usage of fistfulls of short sentences all beginning with "I" make for a very uninteresting style. Pages and pages of narrative such as " I see a man. I pass the man. I am reminded of an old friend. I miss my friend". etc. drove me to boredom and I found myself longing for the end from about page 80 - I don't know where I managed to gain the stamina to finish this book from. In addition to the dull narrative, the characters are all very similar with almost identical non-personalities and identical viewpoints on the world around them - all wander around in a dreamlike stupor making irrelevent metaphorical observations.

The ending is the only point at which this novel comes alive, although it is one of the most grotesque endings of senseless violence that I have ever read. This senselessness is obviously the message the author intended to get across but ridiculous references to the holocaust and Christ spoil any message that is delivered. Whilst the ending does at least allow characters to interact and something finally happens, scenes are very repetitively described and reported from three points of view which might be interesting if the events themself weren't so distasteful.

A very boring book with no plot whatsoever.

I would not recommend this novel to anyone and would suggest that anyone who loves graceful giraffes will find it quite horrible. Those with a connection with Czechoslovakia may find something to reminisce about but to those who have not, the large number of Czech place names will just confuse. If you like reams of reflective description of things that characters notice as they pass through their dream world then you may enjoy "Giraffe" but for those that require a plot of some sort in a novel this is just tedious.

Score: 2.5/10

1 comment:

bedroom_ecosystem said...

2.5/10 are you kidding me?? no story or plot!?? I loved this book and felt the development of characters was great. It may not be a whirly girly fun filled story, thats not the point. It deals with harsh realities and social unrest. Atleast a 7/10 for me.