The Red House, by Mark Haddon
When Mark Haddon wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, he was using the voice of a character with Autism and so his flight-of-ideas writing style was fitting. In this novel, about a family reunion of sorts, however, he has no excuse. This book starts with a good idea, interesting characters, and important issues that arise between them. Unfortunately, the writing is so choppy and confusing that it is a painful book to try to muddle through. From paragraph to paragraph, the primary character changes and by the time the reader decodes whom the writer is speaking about, the character changes. And after all this hard work, the story is largely bleak and dreary anyway. There is no humor at all — not even the sarcasm and cynicism that would complement the pessimism of the book — but just a hopelessness that soaks through each character.
So, confusing and depressing — a pretty lousy combination!