The 12+12 Books of Christmas #18


Samuel Beckett’s novel trilogy is widely considered his greatest masterpiece. The three novels are quietly revolutionary. There is less and less plot as the trilogy progresses, but it becomes ever more difficult to put the books down the longer you read. At the end of it all, you get a payoff in Beckett’s famous “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Then you are done and can begin again.

I bought my copy of the book in Cyprus. We had a professor who told us that it is a good idea to start building a library in your undergraduate years. We thought about explaining to the professor that there were certain pecuniary constraints that university students must take into consideration, but decided against it. Instead of being sensible with my money, I headed to the book shop near the old town and bought a bunch of books. I still have most of them.

I also have The Unnamable as an audiobook. If there are those who sneer at audiobooks or books on tape, let me remind you that Beckett himself said his work “was a matter of fundamental sounds.” Initially I got the audiobook because it was really arduous to read a single paragraph of text that goes on for 200 pages. After listening to it, I found the work opened up in a completely new way. I have listened through the book too many times to count. It is indeed a case of fundamental sounds, the music of language, the harsh yet pleasant pitter-patter of Beckett’s prose. You can rest with it. There is no real plot to care about, few characters and not a lot to think about. My favorite kind of book.

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