Friday, May 28, 2010

Unfinished Friday: Parrot and Olivier in America, by Peter Carey


It's killing me, but I have to admit I'm not going to finish Peter Carey's new novel, Parrot and Olivier in America.

I picked my copy up at ALA Midwinter. Right after the Random House "Book Buzz" presentation, where library marketing reps introduced the spring titles, I sprung to the exhibit floor, and waited in front of the stack of Carey galleys for the moment when the cover would be lifted and the books given out. I'm a huge, huge fan of Oscar and Lucinda and said that no matter what, I wasn't leaving ALA without his new book. And I didn't.

Then I started reading, and it kills me to say this, but I thought it was just boring. Not badly written. Not terrible. Just, not for me. It's a picaresque and I find picaresques notoriously dull. This story told in alternating voices, of two men voyaging to the young United States in the mid nineteenth century, just didn't hold my attention. Olivier is a French aristocrat modeled after Alexis de Toqueville, sent to America to report on its prison system; Parrot is his English servant, and his half of the narrative is much livelier and his voice much more engaging. I gather that Olivier is meant to be a bit of a bore, a bit of a snob and a bit of a dullard. Unfortunately Parrot wasn't enough to keep me going and as much as it pains to admit it, I'm probably not going to finish this book.

I'm also not going to get rid of it, so who knows. I may very well pick it back up again but for now I must admit defeat.

14 comments:

Diane said...

Sorry this one did not work for you. I plan to try it but not too soon. I sort of felt the same way about Postmistress and just skimmed through parts.

Alayne said...

It definitely sounds like something I would put down as well. Good for you!
Alayne - The Crowded Leaf

Kathleen said...

Bummer that this one didn't resonate with you. This book has had a lot of press but come to think of it, I've not heard any blogger say they loved it.

Kristen M. said...

I'm sorry to hear that you couldn't finish this one. It's not one that totally interests me but my husband wants to read it. Of course, he's reading de Tocqueville right now so he might have a better connection with the book. We'll see!

jewwishes said...

Sorry about that. I just wrote a review on a book I stopped reading, due to it being boring, and it was one I bought. OY.

Have a great weekend.

nomadreader said...

I've been looking forward to reading this one, and I'm sorry it wasn't working for you. I'm struggling with The Lacuna right now and contemplating abandoning it too. Ugh.

Book Calendar said...

Happens sometimes to all of us. There is always a little more available for next time, especially from BEA.

lilly said...

I haven't read any of his books (does he have more than two?) so I don't have any opinions but I almost picked up this one because I've seen it popping up in the blogosphere. Maybe I'll try Oscar and Lucinda first.

Amanda said...

Interesting. I added this to my wishlist on my library's audio book site. Hmm, good to know.

Zibilee said...

Perhaps this is a book for another time?? I am sorry that it was a slog for you because of the uneven narrative> I am actually not really sure this book would be for me either.

Audrey said...

I'm impressed with you for giving up! I think the only thing worse than being disappointed with a book you've been looking forward to is feeling like you have to slog through the rest of it. :)

Dave said...

I've been looking for a novel that would grab me. This is on my shelf, but maybe I'll hold off for a while.

Amy said...

That was a tough one for me as well.

-Amy
Life by Candlelight

Marie said...

Kathleen- yeah. It's a tough nut to crack. sigh. my copy is signed so i'll keep it, and maybe i'll try again some day!

nomadreader- i hope you have better luck :-)

Lilly- Oscar & Lucinda is wonderful and so, so different.