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Suburban adultery, Scotch on the rocks and martinis

16 September 2015

On Green Dolphin StreetOn Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t like this book. I really didn’t like this book. But I couldn’t stop reading it.

I read the first chapter, and thought “this is not my cup of tea”. I read another chapter, and thought I can stop reading it at any time. I don’t have to plough my way through it. But I read another chapter anyway.

I don’t like this book. I don’t like the characters, or the clothes they wear. They are the wrong generation, my parents generation. But still I read. Why? It’s 1960, the election campaign in which Kennedy was elected, the first American election I can really remember. I remember wishing that Kennedy would win, because Kennedy was a Roman Catholic and back then I was a High Church Anglican, and High Church Anglicans were second-class Catholics. Kennedy would bring morality and Christian values to American politics, world politics, or so I thought. The Cuban missile crisis put me right on that score. American hypocrisy, and the thought that Krushchev had saved the world from a nuclear holocaust.

This was posted on Facebook by Logan Wagoner with the comment "Same car, same woman. Wish the world understood this." The car would have been a familiar sight in the setting of this book. So what's changed? The clothes.

This was posted on Facebook by Logan Wagoner with the comment “Same car, same woman. Wish the world understood this.” The car would have been a familiar sight in the setting of this book. So what’s changed? The clothes.

1960 was also the year I first heard the name of Jack Kerouac, the year I read The Dharma bums. Jack Kerouac is the same generation as these people, but what a world of difference.

But still I read it, until I eventually reached the end. I think it is well written, but it recalled to me people of my parents’ generation, with their business suits and ties and hats and women with hats and gloves and lipstick and high-heeled shoes and well-stocked drinks cabinets. When people visited you had, at the very least, to offer them a choice of brandy, whisky, beer and gin. People of that class did not offer skokiaan and Barberton.

And Faulks describes it all, in excuciating detail — the clink of ice in glasses, the martinis, the clothes, and all the rest.

No, it is not my kind of book, and these are not my kind of people.

Faulks is even self-mocking, having characters rather disparagingly referring to novels about suburban adultery, like Peyton Place, in the middle of his own novel about suburban adultery.

I didn’t like this book, but I read it.

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