This book has kind of a cult status amongst my friends. The poetic title in combination with the fact that the author is Hungarian (Eastern European authors have kind of an obscure reputation with some of my friends) made us think this must be a mind blowing books. So much, that a few of my friends made a pact to never read it, so that it could keep its mythological status. Nevertheless, one of them gave it to me for my birthday, stressing however that I was not allowed to tell him if I liked it. He wanted the book to remain a mystery. Well, I just hope he doesn’t read my blog.
Krasznahorkai has often been mentioned as a possible nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. I get that, this was really the kind of book that fits in with the prize. It is also the kind of book that gets them shit for being snobbish. Krasznahorkai’s style is extremely dense. At first, I kind of liked it: it is often a bit more difficult to get into the story with this kind of dense literature, but the sentences were really beautiful and I don’t mind putting a bit of effort into a book – heck, I read Ulysses twice. I would just patiently wait for the plot to reveal itself.
Except that it didn’t. I kept on reading and reading and sometimes an event was suggested – someone went out for bathwater, a woman got a visit, a whale was being shown – but you really have to pay close attention to find these events amongst the piles of words that make up this book. The plot just got completely lost in the style, and the problem is not even that I really need a plot, because I can do without, but that there obviously is a plot that is an important part of the story that just got overshadowed. The style is too present and it makes the book unbalanced.
It’s not often that I don’t finish a book, but I put this one away at 2/3. Last week my newspaper featured a review of Krasznahorkai’s newest book and rewarded it 5/5 points, pointing out that this book is also known for its dense style. I think I’m gonna skip that one. Density is not a problem, but I feel like in The Melancholy of Resistance, it stands in the way of any other qualities of the book to have.