Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On a Howard Jacobson Kick

I wrote earlier about how much I enjoyed The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. The book won the Booker Prize and is a real joy.

With that in mind, I picked up a copy of one of Jacobson's other books, The Making of Henry. I'm still reading it, but to give you a sense of Jacobson's style, here is the beginning:

Henry believes he knows exactly when the ninety-four-year-old woman in the neighboring apartment dies. He hears her turn off. Until now he has not been able to distinguish her from her appliances - her washing machine, her vacuum cleaner, her radiators, her television. But the moment she gives up the ghost he detects the cessation of a noise of which he was not previously aware. A hum, was it? A whirr? Impossible to say. There is no word for the sound a life makes.

"Ah well," his cleaning woman muses, once word of the death has seeped out, "what's one more?"

"Plenty, if you happen to be the one," Henry says.

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