It is not to be said I give up on a book. Yet there were many times I was sorely tempted to do just that with this finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for French Fiction, by Daniel Grenier. Perhaps that lack is due to the translation.
The story Grenier tells is a Methuselah tale, and one which doesn’t bring much new to this oft-used literary device, and told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. That choice brings to the telling a cool, distant tone, and in this reader’s opinion did everything to alienate the reader from both the protagonist and the story. There was little in the way of pathos, of building a lifelike character who might rise from the pages and live in the reader’s subconscious. Instead, we’re subjected to a ponderous, pretentious and plodding story that shambles about between timelines.
I can think of many other such Methuselah stories which created a far more credible, engaging and sympathetic tales, (The Timetraveler’s Wife, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, to name only two) and why The Longest Year was deemed worthy of such literary distinction is, for this reader, a mystery.
But there are many perspectives in the world, and this review is but one.by