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
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