by Michael Ondaatje
Quickie Recap: In the 1950s a little boy gets on a big boat destined for England. He makes 3 same-aged friends, and together they come across a whole cast of characters, varying from the benignly mysterious to the criminally dangerous. Now a grown man, Michael looks back to this voyage as a seminal influence that began an even bigger journey.
Quickie Review: First, let me point out that this is perhaps Ondaatje's most readable novel to date. So that's a surprising bonus. While reading it, someone asked me to name the best thing I'd read recently and I really searched my memory before coming up blank. I could name over a dozen titles I'd read in 2012, but none really stood out. This one certainly doesn't. I'm the first to admit I'm just not a huge Ondaatje fan, but always feel compelled to pick up his books because he's one of those Canadian writers that one should read. But they end up feeling like a chore. And this one...it felt kind of meh to me. It goes down easier compared to say, The English Patient, and there are passages that are truly beautiful, almost worth the read. There were some really vibrant characters, and these sketches make Ondaatje's skill strikingly evident. But it wasn't enough. I felt ... unfulfilled, uninspired, and a little bored.
Quickie Recommendation: Not quite.