Bought 19 Oct 2009 – Amazon

I was very much looking forward to reading this novel by a favourite author, but unfortunately it was disappointing.  There were two strands to the novel – one, the narrator’s increasing deafness and his relationship with his aging father, and two, a rather fantasy-driven relationship between the narrator, a younger ex-colleague and a nubile postgraduate student.  The first thread, which Lodge admits in the acknowledgements was based on autobiographical experience, might have been better told as memoir.  The parts on deafness were on the whole interesting, although I found a reliance on silly puns and ideas of what had been said a bit wearing.  The parts about the elderly father were touching, but have, really, been done before elsewhere and didn’t really add anything to the subject.  The strand about the postgraduate student felt a bit grubby and the writing of a late-middle-aged fantasy, which felt a bit distasteful (I have met the author a couple of times and this didn’t sit well with my view of him – fine in a completely invented tale but uneasy in something which had some autobiography in it) and seemed to peter out oddly.

A scene remembering and considering 7/7 seemed clumsily inserted (it is hard to do this well, and can jar, but can be done better than this) and there were a few rants about Centre Parks and Young People Today which would fit better into a Grumpy Old Men book, almost as if these passages had already been written and were popped in to make up the word count.

There was some good stuff on linguistics, some interesting passages about the lip-reading class the narrator joins, (although a passage about hearing dogs for the deaf seemed to be inserted as a point of information for the readers)

I feel bad that I didn’t enjoy this more, but I didn’t.  I was disappointed, and I and, I suspect, other readers, deserve more of this wonderful novelist and satirist.  I will still go back to, especially, the early novels with glee, but I’ll be nervous about approaching the next new one when it comes.