Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Slow Jaw Drop: The Dinner by Herman Koch -- translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett

Front CoverI stayed up past my bedtime last night reading the first half of The Dinner by Herman Koch.  It's a book that starts out with a slightly tense situation that becomes more intense as the plot advances.  So, when for some reason I woke up an hour early this morning at four o'clock, I decided to read more of the book instead of checking Facebook.  90 minutes later I realized that my jaw had been hanging open in disturbed shock for half an hour and that I would be late for work.

The Dinner is that kind of book.

Instead of giving us one jaw-dropping surprise after another, the way Gillian Flynn does in Gone Girl for example,  Herman Koch goes for the slow reveal.  What starts out to be a simple, albeit a slightly tense, family dinner, slowly reveals itself to be something far, far more sinister.  At no point did Mr. Koch's narrator reveal anything that made me gasp in shock, but sometime around five o'clock this morning, the cumulative effect of everything that was really going on between the characters of his novel was so great, that I was lost in jaw-dropping wonder and simply could not look away long enough to realize it was time to  choose a tie for the day's work.

I will confess here that I while yesterday I was on the fence about showing my fourth period history class a short movie about knights, this morning I knew they would be watching and taking notes while I sat on the counter in the back of the room reading the last few chapters of The Dinner.

It's really a decent little movie about feudalism in Europe and I was probably going to show it anyway, and The Dinner  is a wonderfully creepy little book.

I just couldn't stop myself.





11 comments:

Peter S. said...

Ooooohhhhh! The slow burn! I love that too!

Hey, I'm actually in my office desk and seriously thinking of heading to the nearest bookstore to find out what that reveal is! Argh!

leeswammes said...

I loved this book, too! Sorry to hear you were almost late for work. If only "I was reading" would be an acceptable excuse... It should be!

Jackie Bailey said...

Glad you enjoyed this one too! I love the fact you read it at work!

Lisa said...

Wow, it's so rare these days to come across a book that compelling. I had that experience with Kate Atkinson's Life After Life this year & so wished I could stay home to finish it (especially after reading so late into the night).

Anna said...

Ok, you've convinced me that I have to read this one!

Bybee said...

I have to read this!!! I've been circling it for months, and you've pushed me over the edge, CB! Thanks?!

Jenny said...

That's a great review. I'd never even heard of this book before, and now I'm putting it on my TBR. Nice work.

gaskella said...

I love your 'slow jaw drop' for that's exactly what it is! We read this book for book group last month, and we all really disliked it more and more as we read on - but had to finish it!

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Hahaha, I've had no interest in this book since it came out, and now I'm adding it to my library wish list! I was just reading an article on Slate about what the writer called "holy crap novels" -- his argument being that these are the books that should be reviewed in major book review outlets -- and this sounds like exactly that kind of book. :)

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Funny! It's been a while since I've read a truly mesmerizing book. Thanks for sharing.

Here's my It's Monday!

James Chester said...

Well, I hope you all enjoy the book as much as I did. But don't be late for work...