Posted by: Corri van de Stege | November 3, 2010

Down south and finklerish musings

This time I’m down south somewhere, after a four hour drive.  The bar area of the hotel is where it’s at: my room is at the very end of a corridor and I am unable to access the ‘free’ hotel service. 

I’ve dealt with the work bits and have moved onto the personal sites: facebook, blogs and e-mails.  It’s extremely quiet here, even if it is a bar.  A bit disconcerting, bars tends to be noisy.  One man has just got up having finished his pepsi and a large helping of hamburgers and chips.  Someone else is sitting opposite in a corner, also tapping away at a laptop and then there is a man hidden behind a wall.  That’s it except for some soft  music in the background.  The bartender is not really a grown up man, he’s quite young and confessed to me that he was quite new.  That was because he asked me to pay, even though I said my food should be put on my room.  

It’s an aspiring hotel, definitely, with black leather chairs and black tabletops against mint green walls, tall draped curtains and a black and silver bar. 

As well as Lady Chatterley’s lover I also read The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson, recently.  I was going to write a review, but I left my e-book (I read the e-version) and my notes in my room and am not in the mood to go back there.  Perhaps just some miscellaneous thoughts will do?

The Finkler Question is all about jews and their idiosynchrasies, and I remember that it was supposed to be funny.  Reading it, I did not think it was that funny, more sad and pretending to be funny.  I somehow could not get the hang of the humour, it seemed forced, this finklerish fun and mockery.  The fun, I then read somewhere, is all in the fact that the comments on jews and their habits are by an aspring jew, a non-jew who desperately wants to be one.  Perhaps it is, but I must have been missing something.  I did read the book from start to finish and was intrigued, but more by the question as to why it won the Booker than because it was so extremely funny. 

Well written yes, but you don’t expect anything different from Howard Jacobson, do you?  But a book that caught my imagination?  No, definitely not.

‘It’s full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding’ gushes the Guardian review .  I agree with the comments on the writing, it’s well and beautifully written and technically perfect and that’s why, even if the story itself does not grab, you carry on reading.  I just could not feel any empathy with the story though.  I’m obviously missing something. 

Well, I’ve written myself out of a book review – just compare my thoughts with the professional Guardian review and others.  You’ll just have to make up your own mind!

Meanwhile, this bar area is actually filling up, but not noisily so.  These are serious people who speak in subdued voices, who are here for a break in the New Forest or on important jobs, not sure what though.   I’m going back to my room and will wander through my e-reader to find something that I can get lost in.


  1. I’m also in a bar, but reading this I felt like I was in yours. It reminds me what Stephen King says about writing: it’s a kind of mental telepathy. A good enough writer will write in such a way that you can see exactly what he (or, ahem, she) sees, even though the writing and reading may happen in different places at different times. Really enjoy your blog!

  2. By the way, the New Yorker reviewed Finkler this week, and not kindly. Especially with regard to its forced humor. Seems you’re in good company.

  3. Dear Sea, Always always enjoy hearing about where you are, literally. It’s kind of like Chaucer’s tales for me , in a way, and please be sure to take that as a compliment – it is, indeed.

    Very honestly, though it’s not quite lunch time as I write this, I’d love to be in that bar and have a lovely burger and fries – haven’t had either in ages, nor in such a setting, which would be delightful, the accents notwithstanding for heightening the foreign flavor.

    Instead, I’m tapping away at a manuscript due in two weeks and am trying to get a bit of life in it. The Guardian wouldn’t even give this a moment in a slush pile!
    So, more coffee and back to it.
    And then maybe some jumping around outdoors, raking leaves, will get things going as well.

    Love to hear your travels (and bk reviews, too!) as always.

  4. […] 51stories by seachanges – “Down south and finklerish musings“ […]

  5. Melissa – so nice to know I’m in good company as far as my lack of appreciation of the finkler humour is concerned! Thanks for spotting this, it has cheered me up no end.
    Oh – and yes, I so much appreciate your unwavering support and cheering along. You would have been good company in the bar I’m sure and I would have loved to share burgers and fries (and a good glass of wine of course) with you. I cannot wait to see your book, or one of your books, published! Keep at it, I always enjoy your comments as well as your blog 🙂

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