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Jerome Parisse

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Blogs by Jerome Parisse

Room by Emma Donoghue
1/4/2011 1:07:44 AM    [ Flag as Spam or Inappropriate ]

I was looking forward to reading Room, by Emma Donoghue, an Irish writer based in Canada. First, it was shortlisted for the Booker prize this year and there has been a lot of hype around the book. Then, it has strong similarities with the story of Elisabeth Fritzl, an Austrian woman who was imprisoned and raped by her father for twenty-four years, bearing him seven children, of which three were also imprisoned until their rescue. There are other similar cases, such as those of Jaycee Lee Dugard in California and of Natascha Kampusch and Sabine Dardenne. Room is the story of a young woman, “Ma”, who was kidnapped by a man (“Old Nick”) and imprisoned by him for seven years. She gave birth to a child (“Jack”) during her time in the “room”. The story is told by five-year old Jack. It starts with his fifth birthday, followed by a few days in the room, then their escape, and their first few weeks of freedom.

I may as well say it right away, I disliked the book. Like many readers, I read it in one sitting, but my reason for doing so is not that I was engrossed in it, but it was that I knew that if I stopped, I would never be able to get back to reading it. I am not particularly fond of books narrated by very young children, as they become quickly tedious. How long can you stand baby talk? A whole book of it? Room epitomises just this. A few years back, I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer and I disliked it for similar reasons. An exception was Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, told by an autistic child. Haddon’s has beautifully captured the speech of the child and has made his story captivating. Donoghue has made her story extremely boring. The first third of the book is spent inside the room. What can happen in a room? Not very much, and this is exactly what happens in the book. We get to know Jack and Ma and their routine, which is terribly boring. Old Nick is almost nonexistent. After the escape, we spend the next third of the book in a clinic (in another room…). Jack discovers the world, which is all fine, except we get bored pretty quickly. As for the last third of the book, where Jack is taken to a few places, such as his grandma’s house, by that stage I needed something to happen, or simply to hear someone speak normally. I realise the book is about character development and not an adventure story, but reading every single detail of the smallest thing Jack does in a day is not pleasant. Donoghue may have captured the right voice for Jack, I’m not a specialist of child language development so I won’t judge too quickly, but I find surprising that a child who is precocious in many ways (He knows many complex words for example and can talk about things he has never experienced first-hand.), speaks to a mother with a normal speech, and spends hours in front of the television, can only speak like a baby. In any case, even if it is right, this is the last thing I want to read for a few hundred pages. There are also holes in the plot. The escape for a start does not sound plausible. As for the way Jack and Ma reenter the world, I find that Donoghue has avoided the difficulties they are bound to face. Everything seems a little too easy and too fast (If you follow the book closely, Jack is almost behaving normally after two weeks). Issues of separation, anxiety, fears, or even excitement, are barely addressed. As for the relationship with the rest of Ma’s family, it didn’t feel real to me. In fact, I felt very little. Period. In summary, would I recommend this book? Absolutely not. I feel part of its success is due to the hype around recent abduction cases and the horror experienced by the prisoners. I may be wrong, and I know many people feel otherwise, but for me, Room is one of the worst books I have read in a long time.



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More Blogs by Jerome Parisse
• Body Swap Interview and Yunnan Trip... - Thursday, March 10, 2011
• The Corrections - Wednesday, March 09, 2011
• Buried - Wednesday, March 09, 2011
• Black Swan - Monday, March 07, 2011
• Educating Rita - Sunday, February 27, 2011
• Bidrman, by Mo hayder - Sunday, February 27, 2011
• The Insomnia of Stars - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
• If I Stay, by Gayle Forman - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
• Blacklands by Belinda bauer - Wednesday, February 16, 2011
• Where is Marc Levy's respect for his readers? - Saturday, February 12, 2011
• The Wings of Leo Spencer at $10 only! - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
• Boracay, twenty years later - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Hereafter - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Gone (Mo Hayder) - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
• Free e-books until 6 February! - Monday, January 31, 2011
• Two Brothers - Sunday, January 30, 2011
• Miserere - Saturday, January 29, 2011
• Shanghai - Saturday, January 22, 2011
• 3 e-books for free until 6 January! - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• A Spot of Bother - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• Sarah's Key - Wednesday, January 19, 2011
• The Tree - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• Norwegian Wood - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• The American - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• Eat Pray Love - Saturday, January 08, 2011
• 50 literature ideas you really need to know, by John Sutherland - Saturday, January 08, 2011
• Aftershock - Thursday, January 06, 2011
•  Room by Emma Donoghue - Tuesday, January 04, 2011  
• Harry Potter and the Deahtly Hallows - Friday, December 17, 2010
• The art of happiness - Thursday, December 16, 2010
• The Scold's Bridle by Minette Walters - Wednesday, December 15, 2010
• Worst film ever? - Sunday, December 12, 2010
• Trailer for BODY SWAP - Friday, December 10, 2010
• Hong Kong Murders - Monday, December 06, 2010
• The kids are all right - Monday, December 06, 2010
• The Killing Fields - My Father's Guests - Tuesday, November 30, 2010
• Interview on Body Swap and publishing on Kindle by David Wisehart - Friday, November 26, 2010
• The Animated Version of the Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival - Monday, November 22, 2010
• What is it about Japan? - Saturday, November 13, 2010
• The Ice House - Sunday, November 07, 2010
• Body Swap - Wednesday, November 03, 2010
• Taipei: the city that reads... - Tuesday, November 02, 2010
• Free royalty-free music - Monday, October 25, 2010
• Trailer for THE WINGS OF LEO SPENCER - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• Reference Material for Learning Chinese - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• The world’s first text message adventure romance with the other side! - Wednesday, October 20, 2010
• Grease.... or a failed English test - Monday, October 18, 2010
• The jungle temples of Angkor, Cambodia - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
• A little lower than the angels - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
• 61 Hours by Lee Child - Friday, October 01, 2010
• The obsessions of Amelie Nothomb - Monday, September 27, 2010
• Kaohsiung, the friendly city - Sunday, September 26, 2010
• A concise history of Hong Kong - Tuesday, September 21, 2010
• Nicaragua, twenty years on... - Monday, September 20, 2010
• We all make mistakes, don't we? - Saturday, September 18, 2010
• Serena - Thursday, September 16, 2010
• Early works: Coben takes us for a ride - Tuesday, September 14, 2010
• Tokyo / The Devil of Nanking - Sunday, September 12, 2010
• Young and bold - Saturday, September 11, 2010
• Gay marriage anyone? - Thursday, September 09, 2010
• iPad anyone? - Wednesday, September 08, 2010
• Online book promotion: The French strike again! - Tuesday, September 07, 2010
• Blood Canticle - Monday, September 06, 2010
• More Vampires! Breaking Dawn and The Passage - Sunday, September 05, 2010
• Blackwood Farm - Wednesday, August 04, 2010
• Animal Kingdom - Wednesday, August 04, 2010
• Breath - Sunday, August 01, 2010
• The Ghost Writer - Date Night - Dragons et al - Thursday, July 29, 2010
• According to Kit - Friday, July 23, 2010
• Playtime - Wednesday, July 21, 2010
• It's all about words... - Monday, July 19, 2010
• Deed to Death - Friday, July 16, 2010
• The Art of Flying - Thursday, July 15, 2010
• A Gate a the Stairs - Wednesday, July 14, 2010
• Twitter: the art of (non) conversation? - Sunday, July 11, 2010
• City of Thieves - Saturday, July 10, 2010
• Gravity and Drift - Thursday, July 08, 2010
• Who says nobody is reading any more? - Wednesday, July 07, 2010
• Watercolours: the travelling artist - Wednesday, July 07, 2010
• Release of "My Sister's Choice" - Monday, July 05, 2010
• Eclipse: the movie vs the book - Saturday, July 03, 2010
• Three chocolate croissants, please! - Wednesday, June 30, 2010
• Paranormal romance: The list goes on - Sunday, June 27, 2010
• Sex and the City - Friday, June 25, 2010
• A great launch - Thursday, June 24, 2010
• Jackhammering, sniffles and gum chewing - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
• New Moon, Stephenie Meyer again - Monday, June 21, 2010
• Reilly: The case for literary fiction - Wednesday, June 16, 2010
• TWILIGHT - Tuesday, June 15, 2010
• Bedroom Farce - Wednesday, June 09, 2010
• Writing for the deaf and the hearing - Monday, June 07, 2010
• A kiss or three - Sunday, June 06, 2010
• Is - Wednesday, June 02, 2010
• A prolific writer - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
• Angels are the new vampires! - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
• The ebook epiphany! - Sunday, May 30, 2010
• Theatre Value Meal: Small, Medium, or Large? - Saturday, May 29, 2010
• Of the importance of detail - Friday, May 28, 2010
• Literary fiction or gothic horror? - Friday, May 28, 2010


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