Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman

I read this book for my new book club. At first I was intrigued as I mistakenly thought it had won the Booker. Instead, it won the Booker International, which is only for translated books, which is a much smaller pool. But I still was glad to read a translated book, and I think it may only be the second book I've read set in Israel. But it was a disappointment. It was interesting and I'm glad I read it for that reason, but I did not enjoy it.

Dov is a comedian and he is onstage doing a set. But really, he's telling his life story. But really, in a long, roundabout, and occasionally tedious or annoying way, he's telling the story of the loss of a parent. Avishai is our narrator. He's in the audience. Dov came to him recently and asked him to come to this show and give him feedback afterwards. They knew each other as children and haven't seen each other in maybe 40 years. Avishai is a recently retired judge.

The story isn't funny at all (with the exception of the joke about the parrot which was hilarious.) Dov is abrasive, rude, and eventually runs off the majority of the audience. I wish at times I'd been able to leave. But I do try to finish my book club books, and it was pretty short (200 pages). I actually did really like the parts where Avishai was telling the story from his point of view, the parts of Dov's life that he remembered. But that was the minority of the novel. I do not have to like the main character of a book in order to enjoy a book, but I desperately did not at all like spending any time with Dov and was counting down the pages. The ending also felt to me dragged out and manipulative (by the author) and unrealistic that no one would tell Dov this super-important detail for SO LONG. I did not hate the book, but it was not for me.

I bought this book at Ivy Bookshop, an independent in Baltimore, MD.

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