Initial final reaction to The Instructions by Adam Levin: or, that really certainly was one way to start the year

As if there could be such a thing as an initial final reaction to a book I’ve been reacting to steadily for the last two straight weeks: the dust has barely settled on the cover of my copy of The Instructions by Adam Levin and I know there’s conversation set to happen at some point at Counterbalance and so I’m going to try not to blow all my best material here (the bestness of my material being, as always, intra-comparative as opposed to extra-comparative) but I don’t think any of that should halt me from at least tentatively suggesting that this thousand page McSweeney’s title is essentially a good book, a better than good book, a book that no one’s taste could be cast into doubt for considering it a “great” book (“greatness” here being a relatively internal-relative concept, the book potentially being great in itself without attempting to necessarily draw direct comparisons to other “great works of literature,” though it certainly wants that, wants to be taken seriously on that level, a modern day classic in the self-making, as it were), though, personally, I might stop shy (at least for now) of affixing (any sort of) “greatness” to it, in that the dust is still settling and I’m still reacting, still reactive, still a bit taken off guard by how much I did, in fact, like this book (being quite a bit), and, well, the time of judging is no time to cast judgment. Or I’m just a puss. I don’t know. All of which said (and there being much more yet to be said, and I hope as much of it gets said as possible) my main point for now is this: if it’s the kind of book you think you might be interested in reading, then, well, it’s a book that is largely worth reading. I couldn’t fault you for not wanting to read it, or just for falling off onto the wrong side of the fence; lacking the particular nudge I received this time, I’d really rather have likely opted not to read it any time soon, just, because, well, things, but, here I am, and I read it now rather than later, and, in the end, the beginning of the rest of the life I’ll lead after I’ve read this thousand page McSweeeney’s title (a reference I drop again so I can at least tentatively admit that this book is no The Children’s Hospital though that’s a fine thing for it not to be because The Children’s Hospital was a brutal book that broke parts of my brain and heart and I couldn’t have standed to have gone through that again just yet, but, still, yet, this book, The Instructions, it works in a similar sort of sphere as The Children’s Hospital which kind of points the way toward McSweeney’s being a focal point for interesting contemporary literature about fucked-up religious things, which is, you know, cool by me), I can say that I’m glad I read this book now, and, someday, I might read it again, which, I think, is saying something.

Author: Darby

...is, or has described himself variously as, a reader, a litblogger, a critic, a design student, a designer, a developer, a fan of typewriters, a mediocre videogamer, an amateur painter, a dayjob holder, a guy, your new BFF.

2 thoughts on “Initial final reaction to The Instructions by Adam Levin: or, that really certainly was one way to start the year”

  1. Well, that post did NOT help me figure out whether I want to read this book or not! 🙂 I think I might like it, actually, but it’s so long … (obviously). But if it’s good enough to read again …

  2. For what it’s worth, it’s a really remarkably quick read. I mean, for me, at least. The prose is pretty smooth and the action is fairly steady–it was rare that I felt like I was bogged down with no end in sight. (If anything, I suppose the end always felt like it was in sight…and kept pulling me forward, deeper into the book.)

    Of course it’s still hard to say, “Yes, you absolutely must read this thousand page novel!”, but, still, if you think you might like it…I wouldn’t get in your way of starting it.

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