Monday, May 30, 2016

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara
Mar 6-May 15, 2016

Brutal. Positively brutal. I've been ruminating on this monster of a book for two weeks now wondering what to say about it. As I was reading it over the course of two very long months, I would tell people, "It's hard to say I'm enjoying it because it's so brutal. And just when you think it can't get any worse, it does." I was compelled into giving up completely, but I told myself to keep plowing through just to see how it ends – because truly, how could it get any worse than it already was? Only it did.

I found myself needing to take a day or two (or three) off from reading A Little Life because sometimes it was more than I could take. At times I would audibly gasp, or cringe or scream out loud at the sentences before me. To that note, I found that the trials Jude, the lead character, had to face were beginning to become eye-rolling and unbelievable. Could one person really endure that much abuse and suffering?

The general plot is of four college friends and their loyalty to each other. The book starts out with each of the four in equal measure, but soon shifts to Jude becoming the main voice. As they age their friendships are tried, their feelings for one another change, but ultimately their bond is strong. When Jude and Willem became a couple, I again wondered how much more the author could pack into one book. I'm not sure that relationship felt real enough for me.
“But what was happiness but an extravagance, an impossible state to maintain, partly because it was so difficult to articulate?”
I know I said that Delicious Foods was difficult to manage. A Little Life tops that by about a million. Although I'm not sure it really needed to be 700+ pages. The author tended to ramble a little too long at certain points where I didn't think the extra sentences added to the overall experience. Regardless, this is one I'm not soon to forget.

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