Monkeyshines

Book Battle: Fathers and Sons vs Eve Green

I recently read Eve Green, by Susan Fletcher, on the strength of it garnering glowing reviews and having won a major award. I was utterly underwhelmed, and looked to Amazon to see what real people thought of it. Opinion is divided: it’s either a beautiful, mysterious evocation of Wales or a dull trudge through an unlikeable, self-involved character’s tedious past. I fall squarely in the latter camp, but I wondered if that was partly because I was so smitten with Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev, which I read immediately before.

So, I’m pitting the two books against each other, but I decided that it wasn’t fair to choose the battleground myself; I want a good clean fight, here. Being the geek that I am, I had no trouble knocking up a simple random word generator, to decide on the categories on which each book shall be judged. I used the ‘All Adjectives’ word list to generate 5 random categories.

Round 1: Clear
A tricky start for Eve Green, as it comes out flailing with some oblique references and flowery language; for some people these are it’s strengths, but Fathers and Sons lands a stinging blow with a title that tells you exactly what to expect, followed up by a flurry of descriptive passages that are the epitome of clarity. Verdict: Fathers and Sons.

Round 2: Immense
Interpreting ‘immense’ literally, both books move on the defensive, as neither will break a toe if dropped on a foot. A few cagey jabs later, and this damp squib of a round is over. Verdict: Draw.

Round 3: Fluffy
Fathers and Sons is on the ropes, reeling from an unprecedented attack by a cuddly toy dog from Eve Green, but it rallies towards the end of the round as Eve Green‘s darker heart asserts itself. The spectre of death haunts both of these distinctively un-fluffy novels, and it’s another tied round. Verdict: Draw.

Round 4: Curious
After a quiet couple of rounds Fathers and Sons gradually builds up a strong sequence of curious punches: smack – inter-generational dynamics; smack – our place in the universe; smack – frustrated desire. Eve Green is curious about human nature on a smaller scale, and counters with a few hits of loneliness and the nature of evil, but now looks like a broken book. Verdict: Fathers and Sons.

Round 5: Wandering
The episodic nature of Fathers and Sons comes out swinging in this round, but its attack weakens as it becomes clear that the trajectory of Bazarov’s fate has been far from aimless. Eve Green takes advantage with a few time-travelling blows, finishing with a pointless and devastating granny’s-dead-Cornish-sailor of an uppercut. Verdict: Eve Green.

The winner: Father and Sons. A victory for both literature and websites with random word generators.


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