The Page Rule

strangerI don’t subscribe to a page rule, be it 50, 75, or 100 pages.  I’m fairly meticulous in my selection of reading material (go ahead and call me a book snob, I won’t mind), so I don’t need a strict rule on the number of pages I will allow a book to engage me.  That said, a page rule would have saved me some time on my most recent read.  I gave The Stranger by Max Frei around 250 pages before I dropped it.  That was about five times the number of pages to which I should have subjected myself.

This book has been a sensation in Russia, so naturally I was curious about it. After reading half of it the only sensation I felt was drowsiness, and its popularity is a curiosity indeed. Sleep is a recurring theme in the book, as Max dreams his initial contact with Sir Juffin Hully, who then transports him to the magical realm of Echo, where he is frequently assailed in his nightmares. Max’s narration had a magical somnolent effect on me, and reading this book felt like one of those nightmares wherein you attempt to run but cannot move your feet.

As other reviewers have pointed out, this edition suffers from a poor translation. The language is colloquial and cliche, preventing the English reader from appreciating the whimsical story. I could try to read it in the original Russian, but I’d rather spend my time on other promising books instead.


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