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Book review: Crudo by Olivia Laing

I had been looking forward to Olivia Laing’s Crudo after hearing a lot of hype around it in the past year or two. I finally bought it during a visit with my parents and brother to Paris, and even better, to the famous Shakespeare and Co bookstore. And who can resist the aquamarine water on the cover? So, I had high expectations and really, really wanted to love it.

Crudo is told by Kathy, a composite of Laing and punk writer Kathy Acker, as she gets married in a complex new world in which she worries about world events that seems as bizarre as her non-committal approach to her marriage.

I’m afraid that I didn’t love it. I kind of enjoyed it, but even two weeks later, I’m having difficulty remembering what it was about. I had to Google it to remind myself (don’t tell anyone).

It was definitely clever and interesting to read, but perhaps I read it too lightly to really appreciate the cleverness. There were certainly themes, such as the pervasiveness of anxiety-inducing news, that resounded strongly with me and Laing’s approach to love and relationships was surprising and interesting. However, having recently read Rachel Cusk’s trilogy, which also introduces new way of approaching the novel form, I couldn’t help comparing the two and finding I preferred Cusk’s work.

Crudo is worth reading, but requires more dedication than I had the opportunity to give it this time.

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