This Book is a part of Man Booker 2016 Longlist Read Series
AL Kennedy’s “Serious Sweet” might not have made it to the Longlist of Man Booker 2016 but is a book that can you pick from the shelf on any given day only to feel exhausted when you put it back in the rack.
Book #: 34
Title: “Serious Sweet” by A L Kennedy
The prologue of the book starts on a super high with a brilliant description of the child and family that are migrating into England from an “Arabic speaking” country.
Her force of personality is considerable. And she plainly assumes she is special and a focus of attention for only good reasons. And it ought to be possible that she is right in her assumption, that she always will be right.
This is what she writes of a child that is just twelve months old. Yes, exactly. That is way too early for a child to have such complicated thoughts, even when she is being made to run away due to injuries.
As we venture into the main novel, the clock ticks 6:42 AM only to end at 6:42 AM the next day after a tiring 500 pages. Literally on any given day, your life could take its own course – either it is just like any other day or it is exactly opposite to any other day. This ‘widely canvassed’ narration of two people at different phases of their life takes you through moments of extreme excitement followed by uncomfortable reading experience.
The book in itself, at least content wise, is nowhere close to being an exhausting read but the detailing gets way too, well way too detailed. The level that you would need in a cinematic character ‘fleshing’. Well, AL Kennedy cannot be blamed when the narration she needs is for a day, you should see extensive flashback episodes taking center stage.
The book scopes into the lives two contrasting individuals in terms of their forgettable pasts but absolutely similar in the way the thought process unfolds.
Jon-59-Retired. He is a man, if put in context of women, be described as ‘post menopause’ phase. He is way too shattered for his maleness in London. He is a worrying past and the conflicts are put right on across the table. You judge him all you want but can you put yourself in his shoes? Way too tough. Not for the challenges he has, but the train of thoughts that keep running through his mind. He is way too tied up in his mind. The world outside unfolds rather quickly (we have only 24- hours to be narrated) but the thoughts pile the timeline.
On the other hand, we have Meg Williams. A woman who wakes in the morning, because lying in bed when awake was inadvisable, she’d come up here to see the dawn arriving. This is the first impression or the first description you have of her. Her story never really takes off. She has a very forgettable past but she is brave enough to put it all behind her only to be judgmental of present politics and city development.
Then the moment comes when your lead characters have to meet and this is the best phase of this book. It was as if all this lead up was meant to make this a brilliant one. AL Kennedy is absolutely delight to read as long as these two characters are together.
Overall, A L Kennedy’s Serious Sweet is extremely tiring for a reader but has a supremely extensive canvas for a story that unfolds itself in 24-hours. It is a delight as long as the lead characters stay connected, afloat, and in the real world. Skip through the italics (which takes more than half its length) and you would love this book.
Man Booker 2016 Longlist Read Series:
“The North Water” by Ian McGuire
“His Bloody Project” by Graeme Macrae Burnet – Shortlisted
“The Sellout” by Paul Beatty – Shortlisted
“All That Man Is” by David Szalay – Shortlisted
“The Many” by Wyl Menmuir