You may recall – bloody ages ago – I mentioned that I was reading The Constant Gardener closely followed by The Optimist as a bit of an experiment in not getting too depressed by the gloominess that is John Le Carré.
Turns out The Optimist was total shit.
Also, The Constant Gardener was good enough that its complete and utter bleakness was less of a detriment to my psyche than I had previously postulated.
DO NOT READ THE OPTIMIST. Honestly, I am an optimist and even I couldn’t stomach that shite. I had to put it down without finishing it, which I very rarely do even if I don’t like a book. IT WAS THAT BAD.
I actually just finished reading another book that was mediocre at best, although not nearly as awful as The Optimist to be fair. Having previously enjoyed Max Barry’s Jennifer Government – actually, “enjoyed” is a bit of an understatement as Jennifer Government is one of my all-time favourite books that I unfortunately lent to a former friend of mine I now no longer talk to and continue to rue the day I last saw it sitting on her bookshelf calling out for me to take it home – I decided to check out his ouvre and came across Company. I should have guessed it was going to be shit when the sleeve notes had “Praise for Jennifer Government.” Actually, I did guess it was going to be shit but I went against my better judgement and thought I’d give it a try.
Never will I second guess myself on this matter again. Putting “In praise of [previous novel X]” is tantamount to saying: “This book’s a bit shit, but come on you really liked [previous novel X], just give this one a go. Go on. DO IT.” Basically it means you can’t find anything nice written about the new work and you know it’s going down the shitter so you figure the best thing to do is find something nice printed about the author. The irony is that in doing so you basically let anyone with half a brain cell (apparently not me in this instance) know that the book is crap. You might as well put a big stamp on the front saying so (see above). CRAP!