It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I was so happy to finish because NOW I DON’T HAVE TO READ IT ANYMORE! Let me count the ways I disliked this book. Oh, wait, we don’t have enough time.
Set in rural Vermont, the story centers on an elderly brother and sister who live in the same house. To be precise, it’s James house and he’s none-too-happy to have his opinionated, liberal sister living under his roof. Sally, the widow of a successful dentist, is now financially strapped, forced to live with her stubborn, conservative brother, a man whose dislike of television leads him to take his shotgun to her TV set.
Sibling tensions reach a crisis point when James chases Sally upstairs, brandishing a piece of firewood and threatening to kill her. She locks herself in her bedroom and refuses to come out, living off of apples stored in the attic while passing the time reading a trashy paperback novel. Unfortunately, their battle of wills lasts for over 400 pages.
October Light won the National Book Critics Circle Award and I gather it’s a well-regarded piece of American literature but its brilliance was completely lost on me. I disliked just about everything in this book. The characters were either annoying or uninteresting, the story didn’t pique my interest in the least, and the writing was nothing special. Worst of all, I detested the story-within-a-story device that only served to interrupt and draw-out the torture of reading this book. Obviously, it was supposed to have some relevance to the characters and their relationships in the main story, but I didn’t see it. What’s more, I didn’t care and ended up skimming large sections.
By the time I finished October Light, I felt as if I’d spent a week cooped up with horrible relations whom I couldn’t wait to flee.