Jude: Level One, a Sort of Book Review
I just want to say that I dearly wish my sight had been stricken the moment I encountered Jude: Level One, by Julian Gough.
Now, I don't mean this in a bad way.
It's just that I wish my sight had been stricken shortly after seeing the spine of the book and just before pulling it out of the bookshelves at Hughes & Hughes down by the River Fergus in Ennis. And then maybe have had my sight restored again once I'd opened the cover and maybe inadvertently, in my blind state, ripped it to shreds, rendering it completely and utterly unreadable by even the sighted. Not that I'm implying being blind I would be clumsy. No, I just imagine I'd struggle with suddenly being without sight, and in my initial panic I might fret a bit, thus tearing the book cover.
This is also not a slight against the book cover designer, who must feel enormous pressure, and feel all sorts of jokes related to judging. Or they may be someone who has heard it all, and subscribes to the theory that most people will look past a poorly designed cover and give the content inside a fair trial on its own. Hopefully it's the latter, for the sake of their stress levels. The cover, which I sadly did see, is pleasant enough, for the most part. It's green, this one I have. It's got little characters on it, running around this field of green, burning Orphanage in the distant background. It's very vibrant and exciting. Makes you want to pick it up and examine the cover in more detail. Which is what, had I been the book cover designer, I would have avoided designing into the cover, this, this... interestingness. I would have made the cover bland, possibly solid black. No title, no author's name. Nothing to indicate that this is a book that one might like to pick up and read.
It's not the picture of a Leonardo di Caprio lookalike with a penis for a nose prancing about the green fields that made me wish I'd been seeing-impaired in the process of picking up this book. I don't know why I'm not more bothered by it, and that in and of itself rankles me at some subsonic level.
No, what I mean to say is that, had I had no sight, picked up the book regardless, on the title alone, then suddenly had my sight restored, is that I really, really wish I hadn't read the blurb from Tommy Tiernan. What did he say that was so bad? Well, nothing, if you're Julian Gough. What he said was, "... A cross between Flann O'Brien, Father Ted, and Morrissey." Now, Morrissey, sure, okay. Father Ted, great stuff, God rest Dermot Morgan's soul. Flann O'Brien? In the context of a book? A funny book? Holy Great Mother of Pete, himself, this must be a brilliant book, I thought!
And so I picked it up, and read on. Waited for the Flann O'Brien-ish parts. Read on, Orphanage burnt down, is mistaken for Stephen Hawking, read on... meets exiled Charles Haughey... read on... Oh. Wait. Wait one minute. That was the last page, and it was nowhere near as pitch perfect in every single manner as Flann O'Brien. Funny, and a decent-ish read, but not Flann O'Brien. And that is what I meant by I wish I'd been struck blind before picking this book up. Perhaps it would have been better without the expectations.
I'd say definitely we need a sabbatical. But first, let's win 100 Euros worth of books... maybe.
Unfortunately, it seems you can only buy Jude: Level One in the UK (or by stopping by Hughes & Hughes, by the River Fergus, in Ennis). So no link love to the US Amazon shop. Sorry, folks.
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