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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

Blue Mondays - Arnon Grunberg The curly head of Arnon Grunberg pops up pretty often on Dutch television.

He is supposed to be an intellectual and a sophisticated conversationalist with a razor shaped sense of humour, an Amsterdam-born Woody Allen.
The editor who published Grunberg in Italy goes even further comparing him to Philip Roth and Salinger.
I don't get the point. Well, actually I do. Basically they want to sell more Grunberg. Good attempt, but no honesty.

Let's talk about this debut novel. Grunberg wrote 'Blue Mondays' when he was just 23. This may be a good alibi for the lack of a plot in 255 pages, but not for a confusional way of writing now and then.

The problem with Arnon Grunberg is that he is a very smart guy. He understood that the perfect formula to become an acclaimed young novelist is (and was and will be) writing about sex with a sprinkling of funny cynism.
Living in Amsterdam and having Jewish heritage he had two advantages to take and needless to say how in 'Blue Mondays' he took both.

Am I writing about stereotypes? I know, but Grunberg used these stereotypes to manufacture his early success.
I found 'Blue Mondays' very irritating with a few of occasional well written moments and just in its first part.

As soon as the protagonist (obviously an alter ego of the author) leaves behind his dead father the book has no future. Then for exactly 142 pages Grunberg narrates about having sex with different prostitutes while drinking beer and eating herring salad. He could have done it better. Tina, Sandra, Natasja, Marshalla & co. leave no trace. They simply don't have a personality of their own as well as the monodimensional protagonist.

The only positive note is that Grunberg, unlike, say, Gary Shteyngart, doesn't insist that much on ridiculizing the Jewish sexual complications. Good for us.
Somehow his way of writing reminded me two overrated novelists: the Icelandic Helgason Hallgrímur and the Norwegian Erlend Loe. These three share the same chaotic blindness in prose, also known as commercial smartness.