“Two Sketches of Disjointed Happiness”

Simon Kinch’s book is described on the cover as ‘pleasingly melancholic’ and ‘part…love letter to Europe’ – and to a degree this is true. The book is, to my taste, well written, and your attention is held well-enough to make it very easy to rattle through. And in part it is a homage to Europe and evokes – sometimes exceptionally well – how it is to be alone and foreign in a cosmopolitan European city (Seville, in this case).

I would not say, however, that the story is one of melancholy. It reads to me more the reflections of a depressive – some might say existential – mind that is only ever a stone’s throw away from suicide. Once or twice I think I wanted the narrator to get it over and done with!

My only comment on the form of the book is that it adopts a dual story line and alternates its short chapters between them: story A, story B; story A, story B. This is almost cliche these days – though I understand why you would do it this way. I’d hope that the general reader is capable nowadays of a little more complex interweaving of events. But what Kinch does is in the final chapter is actually really clever – potentially not quite pulled off as slickly as it might have been – but smart nonetheless. [No spoilers here!]

Would I recommend “Two Sketches of Disjointed Happiness”? On balance, I think ‘yes’.

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