While I very rarely abandon a book, I’ll admit I closed Man Gone Down at page 275 for the last time — with about 150 still to go. When I was in the newspaper business and we did content surveys, there was usually a box that said “not written for people like me”. That is the box I would have checked for this book. Don’t take that as a total rejection of the book — I would have checked the same box for Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger last fall and it won the Booker prize. And since this book is the last of eight IMPAC finalists for me, I thought it should at least be acknowledged before we start the contest — come back tomorrow for details on that.
Perhaps a better comparison would be another Booker winner, James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late, a book that certainly has its fans. Like Kelman, Thomas’ character has just about everything going against him and the book explores why. Unlike Kelman (a book that I did finish), there isn’t a whole lot of swear words — then again, Kelman’s writing is more precise.
So rather than punishing myself with another 150 pages and then producing a review that is not going to be of much value to anyone, here instead is a link to the New York Times review of Man Gone Down which I think is not only positive, but a very reasoned description of the book. Perhaps it is “written for people like you” after all.