Thursday, August 16, 2012

book review: Communion Town by Sam Thompson

The backstory: Communion Town has been longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize.

The basics: The tagline for Communion Town is "A City in Ten Chapters." Aside from setting the stories have little in common, but instead they give ten different perspectives on the city of Communion Town.

My thoughts: I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this novel. I imagined the stories to have some overlapping characters and places. Instead, the more I read, the more convinced I became this book is not really a novel. Ultimately, it's a collection of stories that take place in the same city.

I confess I enjoyed this book less as it went on, but Thompson's writing is superb. There were a few stories I didn't care for at all, but for the most part, the writing carried throughout the stories I liked and didn't like. Throughout the first three stories, I kept searching for the common threads, either in character, location or theme. I didn't find much, but there were trends of seemingly realistic stories transitioning to something dreamlike and bordered on science fiction. While I did appreciate this tension determining what is real and what kind of city we're meeting, this theme wasn't explored quite as fully as I would have hoped.

Favorite passage: "Have you noticed how each of us conjures up our own city? You have your secret haunts and private landmarks and favourite short cuts, and I have mine, so as we navigate the streets each of us walks through a world of our own invention. And by following you into your personal city, I can learn a great deal of what I need to know."

The verdict: Thompson's writing wowed me throughout this book, but the stories I enjoyed most were the first three, and my very favorite was the first story. I hoped for more threads tying these together, and I'm curious if the Booker jury will find more connections than I did as they re-read Communion Town. While the writing is certainly Booker-worthy, I'm not convinced Communion Town is a novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 304 pages
Publication date: July 5, 2012 (UK)--no word on a U.S. release yet
Source: purchased from the Book Depository

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Communion Town from the Book Depository or Amazon (no U.S. Kindle version.)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

10 comments:

  1. I don't like it when the writing is all I can rely on in a book. It sounds like the stories were just no match for the writing, and even that the book was really loosely connected in and of itself. I am not sure if this is one that I would read, but I did enjoy your comprehensive and honest review on it.

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    1. Thanks, Zibilee. The writing was really amazing, and I'm hoping Thompson will write an actual novel next!

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  2. I love the quote, but it kind of reminds my of Calvino's Invisible Cities, which I still haven't finished!

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    1. Invisible Cities in one of Mr. Nomadreader's favorite books. I should try to read it, I suppose...

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  3. This is probably the book I have most been looking forward to from the Booker longlist, but from what you say it sounds more like a short story collection than I was anticipating...maybe I'll hold off for a while yet! Thanks for the review.

    Marie
    girlvsbookshelf.blogger.com

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    1. Marie, I was really looking forward to this one too, but I was disappointed it didn't come more together for me. I'll look forward to your thoughts when you do get to it.

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  4. The premise of the book sounds great... That's disappointing that it didn't quite play out that way. I love that quote though. So true.

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    1. Jenny, the premise is interesting, and if I were more of a short story fan, I would have enjoyed it more.

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  5. I'm half way through this book and I think I'll end up having a similar opinion to you. I'm wowed by the writing, but not enjoying the short story aspect. I wish it was more connected as a novel.

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    1. Jackie, I'll look forward to your thoughts. I enjoyed the second half less than the first because I began to grow bored with the individual stories.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!