5 / 5 Stars
Poetic, bleak and highly memorable.
I'd heard rave reviews about Fernando Pessoa (under his many other guises), so was really keen to get stuck into this one. I'll be honest, when I first started, I was bemused. Rather than any sort of storyline, it seemed to be a series of small observations, mainly examining the pointlessness and misery of existence.
Hmm... I wasn't sure this was going to be the book for me (plus I kept reading it in Morrissey's voice, which wasn't helping).
Then all of a sudden, the penny dropped. At around page 80, I suddenly GOT IT.
It breaks so entirely with convention that at first, it's a bit of a mind-f*ck. But once you get past that, you realise that this book is really, really freaking good. Pessoa writes in such an amazingly poetic manner (unsurprising given his background) and there were certain sections where I found myself re-reading it, simply because it was so beautifully written.
Parts were so relateable too - particularly when he starts talking about the act of writing. Yes, it's pretty relentlessly bleak and there isn't much in the way of positivity going on here, but that's what's so impressive about it - the guy manages to successfully sustain it for over 400 pages.
Don't go into this expecting it to be an easy read, because it isn't. However, if you're interested in reading books that smash through all the rules, then go for it. I'd heartily recommend making some time for it.