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Thursday, September 3, 2009

The English Patient The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes I think the people who judge the prestigious book awards and choose the winner, deliberately go out of their way to award some book that's nearly unreadable. Books that fall into this category generally have little to no plot that's discernible to the reader's naked eye, and at best the book is written as a half-baked stream of consciousness muddle. In my opinion, it is those who make it through reading these kinds of books who deserve the awards; NOT the authors who scribble them on the backs of envelopes or on matchbook covers.

That said, The English Patient does have some redeeming qualities about it. It is, after all, written from the perspective of a man who is badly injured, heavily sedated, and is working his way though amnesia to remember the details of his life. In my opinion the best written passages in this book involve those that take place in the wartime situations. Michael Ondaatje has written serveral riveting passages, one in particular involving dismantling a bomb, that kept me on the edge of my seat, not even realizing I was holding my breath until the outcome was revealed.

And then we get back to the real crux of the story, Ondaatje goes meandering all over the page while my mind wanders toward what I could be reading instead of this.

From a historical point of view, The English Patient was well done. Strictly from the point of view of the characters who fleshed out Ondaatje's story, most of them were not likable, sympathetic people no matter what situation landed them in the story. Worst of all was the English Patient himself who, for me at least, remained at the end of the book as he was in the beginning, just a sedated man who spent day after day in a bed being cared for by a dedicated, but hard to understand, nurse. I would only recommend this book to people who like their reading material to be dry and dull.

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1 comment:

Hector Macdonald said...

Hi Gussie

I can't find an email address for you, so please forgive me intruding on your comment wall. I’d like to invite you to write about your favorite books at, where you can add information, images, video, music and links to illustrate and explore the books.

Right now, we're running a $3,000 Tournament and we'll be offering contract work to the best entries.

Best wishes

Hector Macdonald
Editor, Book Drum