2013 Man Booker Shortlisted: Harvest #2

HarvestRating: 2.0
A Novel by Jim Crace
2013 / 224 pages

I feel like I have been transported back in time! It is 1987 and Mrs. Edmunson has assigned us Harvest by Jim Crace for grade 12 novel study. “You must read it so try to enjoy it” she says. “Come on! There are some great things in here! There is violence and witches and even magic mushrooms!”

Start to read. Ah. The harvest is done, there is going to be a celebration.

~~I wonder what we are going to do for Anthony’s birthday next Friday. Veronica wants to take the bus to his house. Better ask my mom~~

Oh. Walter Thirsk, he’s an odd duck. Kind of lame and boring.

~~Do I have any money? Duran Duran AND David Bowie in T.O.??? We are GOING! We ARE GOING!! WE ARE GOING!!!!~~ $(KGrHqNHJEgFButCzFv3BQiVP7yj3!~~60_35

Well, a fire. This should get things going.

~~”No one move a muscle as the dead come home!” Who sings that song? That video scares me. Shriekback! Yep, it was Shreikback!~~

1306417I don’t think they are punishing the right people! Mob mentality? This reminds me of The Lottery.

~~What grade did we read The Lottery in? Grade 8? Miss Bailey? Is that you?!!~~

ūüė¶ ¬†Poor horse! Sad that he was killed. Skipjack? Willowjack? Slap that?

~~Buddha is purring! She is trying to lay down on my book. Kitty cat marching!! SO CUTE when she gets ready to sleep!~~

Mr. Quill, Master Kent. Mr. Quill, Master Kent. Bedlam. Bedlam. Bedlam. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And then it was over. Back to 2013– I have to mop my kitchen floor this Saturday.

This one really felt like a school assignment that I was forced to read (sorry to steal your line Mike!) and I was day-dreaming the entire time I was reading. I feel like I should have gotten a lot more out of this one but, alas, I did not! The best thing about this book was our fellow BookerMarker, Jen’s awesome graphic diagram in the Why It Will Win series (here).

2 stars (at Literary Hoarders this means: Bad. But not without merit– the merit being that the prose of this absolutely boring book was beautiful ~~sigh~~)

Scan 48This review was posted simultaneously on BookerMarks.

Book Review: Harvest

Harvest-225x300From Goodreads: In effortless and tender prose, Jim Crace details the unraveling of a pastoral idyll in the wake of economic progress. His tale is timeless and unsettling, framed by a beautifully evoked world that will linger in your memory long after you finish reading.

But it wasn’t effortless prose.

As much as I wanted to like Jim Crace’s¬†Harvest, a novel that is reported to be his last, I often found myself avoiding it. ¬†Yes, the book’s prose was beautiful. ¬†Yes, it was a tough and interesting premise. ¬†Yes, there is no question that Jim Crace is a respected author who has written another novel that is being widely discussed across literary circles. ¬†It just was not the book for me.

This story is told from the perspective of villager¬†Walter Thirsk, and the entire narrative takes place over just 7 days. ¬†Beginning with two plumes of smoke,¬†Harvest¬†slips the reader into an uncertain time of master and servant, villager and outsider, tradition and change. Walter Thirsk, a widower and the novel’s guide, shares his observations throughout the story and shares his misgivings about the shift that a farming village is facing from grain to sheep. ¬†Change is never easy, and for the inhabitants of this village, fear of it pulses through their veins. This fear leads to everything from poor judgement to finger pointing, both of which smack of the potential to create an utter wasteland. ¬†Clearly, when too much energy is used to resist change, the unintended result can be destruction rather than preservation. This parting message leaps from the latter pages of¬†Harvest, which made the story’s lasting mark a sad one.

During the Bookermarks podcast, I noted that¬†Harvest¬†would be the perfect Literature assignment in High School. ¬†Crace’s language deserves undivided attention, and the story provides multiple layers that can be peeled back for further examination. ¬†Deeper meanings can be extracted from the simplest of Crace’s sentences, which is unquestionably the mark of intelligent prose. ¬†I do not question the merit of¬†Harvest¬†as a literary accomplishment, nor do I wonder why it has its place on the 2013 Man Booker Shortlist.

Simply put, my trouble with¬†Harvest¬†was its pace. ¬†While it was clear that every single word was chosen with great care, I found that the plot quickly became mired in its own language. The descriptions bogged down the emotion. ¬†In other words, it just didn’t flow. ¬†It wasn’t a book that I was anxious to pick up again, and while I will always appreciate beautiful writing, I also like to get lost in a story. ¬†Harvest¬†did not provide this escape. While I congratulate Jim Crace for a novel that this both poignant and complicated, it is not a novel that I will be picking up for a reread anytime soon.

3 Stars for Harvest.

This review was simultaneously published on Bookermarks.