Peirene #5 is one which I picked up solely because it is a Peirene. I’ve read and enjoyed 1-4 to a greater or less degree and I’m going to continue to read everything the nymph publishes because a) I am a completist, b) I love novellas and c) Peirene hasn’t published the same book twice.
That said a book about boxing, bull running and masculinity was always going to have to climb a mountain with this reader. While it didn’t reach the summit, neither was it left at base camp. But reviewing something that often confirmed pre-existing antipathies feels like a chore and is likely to cause a rift between the nymph and me.
Time for something different.
I have been reading the marketing blurb and other reviews with interest and find that much of the language is the same that I would use. It strikes me that those words have both positive and negative connotations. For example:
Positive: Action-packed, macho,violent. (OK, let’s grant some leeway on the latter – with boxing as a major element, it’s simply not going to be touchy-feely, is it?)
Negative: men test the patience of their womenfolk and female readers with their need to “prove” themselves by putting themselves in dangerous situations, sex scenes fuelled by lust not love, main protagonist is a man with much brawn and very little brain.
B) Infused with the spirit of Hemingway and Jack Kerouac
Positive: spare writing style, plenty of plot, excellent narrative movement
Negative: wholly masculine point-of-view, misogynistic, conversations punctuated by silences, unfinishable (Kerouac’s On the Road, that is).
To summarise: Should a testosterone-fuelled narrative in the spirit of Hemingway and Kerouac exert a positive pull, read this. Should it sound like a load of bull, flee!
(P.S I liked the ending. At least the two adventurers were man enough to face the music!)