The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson Translated by Victoria Cribb
It’s a broccoli book – and I hate broccoli
If, like me, you were raised in a book loving family, one of the things you were taught at an early age was that books, once started, should be finished. You should read to the end, even if you don’t want to. I’ve no idea why we were taught that as children – I don’t know about you, but when I was a child I was taught all sorts of stuff that I had to disabuse myself of before I could even dream about a happy life. One of those things was eating broccoli. I did it for years. Why? Because people told me I should. It was good for me. And I hated it. And then, one day, maybe ten years ago, maybe a little less, I was in mid chew and I thought, “Why am I doing this? I don’t care how good it is for me – I hate the stuff.” I haven’t eaten it since. I’ll never eat it again.
The Darkness is like that. It’s very well written and, although I don’t speak a word of Icelandic, I can tell that Victoria Cribb’s translation is first class. And I read 80% of the book before I thought, “Why am I struggling on like this? I’m bored to tears. I couldn’t care less about the characters or what happens to them. My time has been woefully imposed on.” And I stopped. I didn’t finish it. I never will.
I know from looking at the reviews that there are people who think The Darkness is a wonderful book. I’m very pleased for them. I’m also very pleased for people who like eating broccoli. But both sets of people are deluded.
I hate broccolli, too, John, but my wife insists I eat it. “It’s medicine,” she says. “It’s good for you.” So, in the interests of marital harmony, the stuff gets eaten. I’m envious of your principled stance.
Great review. Very original … but then, what would one expect from a great writer.
I sympathise with that, Brian – I get it from my daughter, the nurse – but I’ve learned to stand firm. I tell anyone ready to listen (and many who aren’t) that broccoli is the work of the devil.