Over at The Dabbler I write a Row Z feature on cricket and America, largely inspired by Joesph O’Neill’s much-praised novel Netherland.
Gaw said he came to ‘despise’ Netherland. I wouldn’t go as far as ‘despise’ but did get frustrated with it. It was uneven in the sense that there were brilliant passages, but in their isolation they stood out as self-conscious literariness. There was also a sense, augmented by the blurb and cover, of murder-mystery tension which didn’t go anywhere, essentially because, it eventually turned out, there was no plot. I would probably have enjoyed the book more had I been reading it purely as a literary psychological novel – rather than as a thriller with literary pretensions – because then I wouldn’t have been waiting for the story to develop. They should put stickers on such books: “Warning: This book has no plot.”