By: Anna Burns
Milkman is the second of the Man Booker Long-Listed Books that I picked up and much like Sabrina I just don’t think this one was for me. Although on this one I have to say based on execution that may be true for a lot of people.
Where this book worked however when it concentrated on it was the story of our narrator being stalked and harassed by said Milkman. It’s really disturbing and so true that it actually hurts to read. Actually sometimes this book made me angry.
Not only does no one in town recognize that she’s being stalked but stories spread and she takes a ton of blame. There’s one point where she’s poisoned and her ma is basically like this is what you get for going around with a married man. I wanted to throw my phone. Also the psychology of it. She’s convinced he’s going to jump out even in her own house. So on point in those regards and seeing the effects it has on this poor girl.
(Also I give the narrator of the audiobook credit she kept it going as best she could. Sometimes I’m not sure she took a breath for what must have been pages.)
That being said that stream of conscious has never been my style. In fact usually I run screaming the other way from stream of conscious books and I found it as distracting here as anything else. Our narrator might be doing one thing (like carrying a dead cats head for burial) but she trails off in a dozen different directions in her mind. It might be very human and how people think but its a pain in the ass to read.
Also the whole name conceit. Namely no one has one. It’s all Maybe-Boyfriend (he refers to her as Maybe-Girlfriend) Tablet’s Girl Sister, Longest Friend, Real Milkman, 3rd Brother-in-Law and my favorite Somebody McSomebody.
Call me Annoyed Reader.
I did get used to it halfway in and then she’d come up with another name or something but I thought it took away from the book honestly.
So like I said about Sabrina Milkman is an interesting idea and time period (Ireland during The Troubles) and a timely story about stalking and harassment. Not to mention the psychological effect that has on a woman. But the execution bogs it down and gets in the way. Maybe that’s the key to being nominated for a literature prize? Take a good idea and, in the name of being different, make it inaccessible or a pain in the ass to read.
Recommend: Overall no. Though I would say if you’re going to anyway- check out the audiobook.