Brief thoughts: A Man in Full, Season to Taste and Barracuda

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A Man In Full

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe

Five words from the blurb: entrepreneur, Atlanta, debt, idealistic, deliverance

This book started really well. The character development was fantastic and I quickly became attached to a wide variety of people. Unfortunately the plot seemed to stall in the middle and I completely lost interest. I only continued as I have developed an interest in stoicism and wanted to see how the book handled the subject. Unfortunately it didn’t handle it well. It quoted all the basic principles, but failed to develop them or apply them to the characters with any real meaning. I’m disappointed I wasted so much time with this 800 page chunkster.

 

Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband

Season to Taste by Natalie Young

Five words from the blurb: husband, dispose, body, subversive, aftermath

This book contained gruesome scenes of a woman eating her husband after murdering him in their garden. It was gripping throughout, but unfortunately it lacked depth. I felt the book was written purely to provoke controversy as it failed to address any moral issues. There were also several plot points that didn’t add up (eg. why didn’t she just feed him to her massive dog?) Recommended to those looking for an absorbing read, but don’t expect it to stand up to much scrutiny.

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Barracuda

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Five words from the blurb: swimmer, rich, sacrifice, family, dream

I loved The Slap so was disappointed when Barracuda failed to have the same impact on me. I didn’t go to private school and have no interest in competitive swimming so that might explain why it didn’t captivate me as much as a book about the politics of slapping a child. The overall story was OK, but it dragged in places. I’d recommend The Slap over this every time.

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13 Comments

  1. I’m starting to worry that all books will be 800 pages soon. I think we need to stage a rebellion!

    1. Jackie says:

      Vicki, I love long books, but they do annoy me when they start so well and then fail. Why can’t they be consistently good/bad all they way through?!

  2. tanya says:

    I really like Barracuda, but skipped over THE SLAP because of the topic. Now having read Barracuda, I think i’m going to go back and read The Slap. And maybe i liked Barracuda because I like stories set in private schools.

    1. Jackie says:

      Tanya, The two books are very different in terms of style/content and I’m not sure anyone will love both books. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’d say if you loved Barracuda you might find The Slap too harsh. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts!

  3. David says:

    I haven’t read ‘The Slap’ (yet) but ‘Barracuda’ was one of my favourite novels of last year – I just thought it was utterly compelling, provocative, and really made you look into those dark corners of your own personality. I also loved the structure with the two narratives that moved like tides. I used to avoid sports in books as I don’t take anything beyond a superficial interest in any, but increasingly I’m finding I enjoy novels that use sport, because it is never about the actual swimming or baseball or ice hockey – sport is just a really handy way of talking about striving for things and often as not failing at them and how we cope with that kind of failure.

    ‘Season to Taste’ is one I won’t be reading – the premise is great, but it’s almost like a one-liner: I can’t really see where you can go with it. And from reading the first few pages, I wasn’t struck by her writing either.

    I’ve yet to read anything by Tom Wolfe though I do have a copy of ‘I am Charlotte Simmons’ which I’ve been meaning to read for years

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I know that sport is another way of talking about the human condition, but I’ve not yet found a book about sport that I really love. Perhaps I’m biased against them before I even start? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on ‘The Slap’. I think the writing quality is better than in ‘Barracuda’ but it is a lot harsher/more direct.

      You’re right about ‘Season to Taste’ being a one-liner. It has no complexity to its plot. It’s OK, but I’m not sure why it is getting so much hype.

  4. Teresa says:

    I liked Barracuda, found the protagonist fascinating. I loved The Bonfire of the Vanities by TW and have The Right Stuff TBR. All I think of when I see Season to Taste is The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover – loved it at the time but probably not to my taste now!

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I watched ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover’ years ago. It was weird! I remember it more for the amazing cinematography and can’t remember much about what actually happened it the plot. I don’t think they’ll appeal to the same group of people, but both are quite shocking!

  5. I forgot all about The Slap! I remember when it was making the rounds a while ago, and I did intend to read it. Adding it back onto my TBR list — along with Barracuda, just because I’m curious whether I have the capacity to be interested in competitive swimming in fiction.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, I look forward to seeing what you make of them!

  6. Judith says:

    Pity about Barracuda. It helps if you’re interested in the topics, I guess. Maybe I’ll give it a try anyway.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I think you’ll probably enjoy it more than I did. I look forward to comparing notes.

  7. Interesting Jackie. I’ve just read and reviewed Barracuda. I really liked The slap but I think Barracuda is better. I felt The slap, towards to end in particular, got a little lost and a bit predictable (such as Aisha at the conference), whereas I thought Barracuda was much tighter in terms of being clear about its subject/message. I’m not a sporto (as we in Australia sometimes say) at all, but Barracuda isn’t really about sport I thought. I loved Tim Winton’s Breath which is ostensibly about surfing. I have even less interest in surfing but I loved reading about what it means to others. I could get a sense of it without having to do it – and that’s a plus for me! And, in the end the book wasn’t really about surfing. To each her own, eh?

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