Today I have a rave book review of a brand new release, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride. I was initially skeptical about beginning this book but I have to say, The Lesser Bohemians may be my favorite book of the year so far.
The Lesser Bohemians has a simple, almost cliché premise: an 18-year-old girl moves from Ireland to London in the mid 90s to attend drama school. She’s innocent but eager for life, and she finds herself engaged in a passionate, complicated, and challenging love affair with an actor twenty years older. He has a dark past and some very unsavory secrets. The story itself is fine, but the way it’s told elevates this book from the ordinary.
The most extraordinary and important thing to know before reading this novel is its language and style, which departs almost entirely from literary convention. It’s over 300 pages of the most gorgeous, evocative, stream-of-consciousness language that borders on being one very long poem. The literary style is not for every reader, and can be very challenging at times. I thought I would hate the style, and it only took me twenty or so pages for me to completely change my tune, believing it’s one of the most beautiful ways to tell a story. The style takes the trite subject matter and makes it real in ways I never thought possible. The style makes the characters—sometimes very abhorrent, flawed characters—lovable. The style reminds me of a mix of Howl and The Waste Land. I completely fell in love with the style once I committed to it, and this is definitely a novel you have to commit to wholeheartedly. Here are a few examples:
All the speculative friendships I, jealous, observe. It’s just space but I have so much distance to make and this seems such a wilful world.”
Jesus. Jesus he never. Jesus he really did. No teacher Never, nor anyone else. Bang out blatant about going permissive. Noting, I note another face laughing just like me. Trying not. To be mature. To keep the rict from boiling over. Of an age she also seems so I Hello when I’d not usually. Then she, sloe-eyed with slowest smiles, says Cuppa? In the Canteen? And so wriggle in. Slip in. Remember people are blind to under your skin or. Under my skin now.
After a while, the unusual style became totally natural for me, and the book flew by in a span of just a few days. I usually take at least a week to read a book. Keep in mind, this book is not for the faint of heart; the subject matter is a bit icky. This is definitely an R-rated book, but if you’re looking for an amazing story to get lost in and a book to challenge every bit of you, The Lesser Bohemians is definitely the one.