I’ve started in on our class’s next reading, The Stolen Child, and, honestly, I’m not enthused by it. The book is inspired by the W.B. Yeats poem of the same name, and I think Amanda summed up my sentiment towards the author when she said the other day, “Congrats on having read a poem.” Yeah, that’s real dismissive, and it matches my mood toward this book and this book’s place in my class’s curriculum.
The Stolen Child is a story with two narrators, alternating between chapters. They both detail different sides of the kidnapping and replacement of a runaway boy with a woodland goblin (both of whom are the narrators), and how those two develop as they grow up in their new environments. I’m really not all that into stories about goblins, and, overall, the book has been kind of depressing. I completely agree with The Guardian’s ten-year-old review of the book:
Such choice, felicitous phrases – a thick May fog “settled into the woods and clung to the darkness like the skin of a peach” – go some way to relieve the perpetual depressive sag of Donohue’s prose. A Washington archivist and former speechwriter, his first novel is remarkably accomplished, if peculiarly miserable.
Unlike the author of the review, I’m not too impressed with the writing in the book, because for each felicitous phrase about thick May fog, there’s a cliched backyard “bathed in light.” But I think even the Guardian’s patience with the book ran a bit thin towards the end:
The Stolen Child is literary fantasy in an existentialist vein, an alienated vision of life as decay, bereft of meaning or hope. “A bedtime story for adults”, Cape reckons. Fair enough, if your idea of comfort reading is Albert Camus.
Listen, if we’re seeking out bedtime stories for adults, then how about one of these books (which I should be receiving tomorrow and will promptly be reading instead of finishing The Stolen Child):
- Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson
- The White Boy Shuffle: A Novel by Paul Beatty
- The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski
I’m adding these to my post-IJ reading list, but they’re going to be bumped to the top, because I find these authors and their subjects to be much more interesting than the currently assigned book.