Report on the Descent of Man

Thank you for what was again an engaged and free flowing discussion around The Descent of Man. Thanks Brian in advance for sending along your own evaluation.  Your thoughts well expressed and seemingly consistent with much of the discussion on Thursday.
There was general appreciation of the book and I am in a bit of an awkward posiion her as the low score outlier attempting to present a balanced report. It was a fine choice of a read if only for engendering engaged and lively discussion .

So who was the author when not being authorial? He himself is up front about his own approach to masculinity and what it means to him. Some of our number were aware of him from artistic endeavours as well as a TV personality. I will admit that I was not. The relevance of this was a question rasied as to whether this book would have been published were it produced by someone without an existing public personna. The general opinion was that it probably would not have.
A number of readers found it increasingly repetitive in delivery and tending towards the annecdotal. There were a number of discrepancies in construction and a real lack of structure. Joe suggested that it would have suited a shorter essay (possibly a New York article) – both for the style in which it was presented as well as the lack of supporting evidence.
However, it raised a wide variety of issues in a very lively style. The author’s delivery was clearly personal, but this made for easy reading that was authentic and genuine.  The reflections on western’s society’s oppressive masculinity sparked resonance with most.
The author is an artist and it was suggested that this book was much as another work of his sculpture. He had opinions and presented them in a textual form as he would in other media. He expressed the ideas freely and simply called for his audience to react and reflect as they saw fit. And in the case of our readers – we did.
What did he promise for the book? Did he achieve these? In this we were divergent. I for one did expect more. Although I bought into the presentation for the first few chapters I felt he promised a more balanced discussion that was beyond anecdotal and grew increasingly upset with the failure to deliver. However, that was just me and I gather from discussion and from scores that others were very appreciative and felt that my expectations were unreasonably high.
So the score on the board:
Brian M – 6.5, Brian C-7, Jim-8, Fergal-8, Joe-5.5, Mike-8.5, Shawn-4.5, Declan-6.5
for an average and a very healthy 6.8 (maybe – that’s my math and we know what it’s like – feel free to check that).
So the nominations for October Fiction read are:
Robert Harris – Munich (Fergal and Joe)
Hannah Kent – Good People (Declan)
Maggie O’Farrell – Instructions for a Heatwave (Brian C) – withdrawn.
Charlie Lovett – The Lost Book of the Grail : A Novel (Shawn)
Note: Again we made a mistake on voting with me as tabulator also voting last – tabulator must vote first. As it is I did not cast a vote as there was a leader by a single vote by the time I went to cast mine and so leave it to other’s cast votes to call it.
The chosen read for October is:
Charlie Lovett – The Lost Book of the Grail : A Novel

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