August, Bernard Beckett

This one came from the good folk at Textpublishing. I was attracted to the book for several reasons, one of which was that the author shares a last name with Samuel Beckett, one of the most probing writers of our time. The other major thing which intrigued me about this text was its cover page which is seemingly upside down, an indication of things to come! I was also particularly fascinated with the book’s opening which describes the protagonists trapped in a car wreck, inverted, clearly seriously injured.

I wanted desperately to like this book, in fact, I really wanted to love this book. I think that this partly accounts for my disappointment – my high expectations. The opening is superb:

“For a moment the balance was uncertain. The headlights stabbed at the thick night. A rock loomed, smooth and impassive, then swung out of the frame. A stunted tree rushed at him, gnarled and prickly. The seat pushed hard, resisting his momentum. Road, rock again, grass, gravel. The forces resolved their differences and he was gliding, a dance of sorts, but he was deaf to its rhythm, just as he was deaf to her screams. Instinct fought the wheel, but the future drew them in.”

I was immediately intrigued and desperate to find out what drew these characters to this point, to this fall.

However, I think that this book was somehow too dense for me, too heavily resting upon philosophical tenets about which I know very little and this was my disadvantage. The text grapples with the question of free will from a Christian perspective. The title alludes to the influence of Saint Augustine on the thinkings of this text – Saint Augustine was concerned with the concept of the original sin and the notion of free will. All this was culturally alienating to me and I found myself floundering, often, while reading.

I certainly enjoyed some of Beckett’s prose and his basic plot was definitely interesting but I feel as though I need to complete a Bachelor’s in Christian theology in order to properly appreciate this text.



2 responses to “August, Bernard Beckett

  1. I have just been googling ‘August’ because I saw it mentioned on The First Tuesday Book Group (finally catching up on some vodcasts) and it getting a rave review, its sadly not out in the UK until, erm, August.

    I have been doing a little research on it here there and everywhere and am now trying not to get too over excited about it so its not the slight disappointment you found it. It just sounds so good.

  2. It could have been excellent… I think that I missed something because there was just too much that was foreign or beyond me. I will be interested to read your response to the book in … August 🙂

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