Daily Bookshot: Great Expectations!

Great Expectations!, originally uploaded by Robert Burdock.

So this isn’t a shot that was taken today. It’s from Saturday, as I sat in Abbot House, a fifteenth-century dwelling sited close to my home, which has a truly wonderful cafe (although the old uneven flagstone floor makes all the tables a bit wobbly :o)) . Before me (aside from the delicious slice of farmhouse cake) is an unopened copy of David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide (Penguin Books), and rushing around my bloodstream is the bibliophile’s most addictive hormone – great expectation.

The ‘great expectation’ was generated courtesy of Penguin publicist Joe Pickering(@joethepublicist on Twitter) and his almost incessant (but most welcome) evangalising of the book. This was added to by a bunch of respected fellow lit-bloggers, who are saying some wonderful things about this ‘novel’.

Great expectation is a wonderful thing – a real passion driver and motivator, but it can also be a ‘killer’, when expectation doesn’t reach the lofty heights one expects it too.

Today is Tuesday of course and I’m now reading Legend of a Suicide (as you’d already know if you follow my Reading Journal). And with the cloud of ‘great expectation’ hanging over it, the book had a lot to live up to from the outset. When I read the initial ‘chapters’ guess what? I didn’t feel those expectations were being met. Sure these chapters are well written. Sure these chapters are engaging. But they weren’t really moving me to any great degree, or fulfilling me to any great depth.

That was until I began the latest and longest ‘chapter’ in Legend of a Suicide, which is actually a novella in it’s own right. You know that ‘great expectation’ that I felt wasn’t being met initially? Well now I feel like I’m overdosing on it. Too soon to draw long-term conclusions of course, but early indications suggest that this could be a book for which its expectations could never be set too high. I’ll let you know the outcome before the weekend.

Penguin Books | 29 October 2009 | £7.99 | PAPERBACK | 240 PP | ISBN: 9780141043784

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. stujallen (Twitter: stujallen)

    It is a real peach of a book rob ,I ll read mine next I think . Hope its a good as joe makes out .

  2. I agree about the initial ‘chapters’ (actually stories) – I thought they were sometimes overwritten, straining for effect, with slightly overwrought things like the stepmother who shared her one-eyed status with a fish from Fenn’s youth…

    But ‘Sukkwan Island’, the novella, makes it all worthwhile. And even though it’s very good from the start, there’s also a kick which really pushes it into the stratosphere. Enjoy, Rob and Stu!

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

      I’ve not finished Sukkwan Island yet John but the overbearing sense that something ominous is going to happen is making me breathless..pheww 🙂