February 8, 2017
MarkBernstein.org
 
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A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

This weighty and much-praised book, a Booker nominee, recounts the friendship of four prosperous New York men – a lawyer, an actor, an artist, and an architect – over several decades.

I have not been so giddily happy to see the end of a book since Little Dorrit, and that was back in 1973.

The characters are well drawn, the language is interesting without being self-consciously lyrical, but while there’s plenty of incident, there’s remarkably little story to propel this long, long character study. While the narrative spans decades, we’re focused so intensely on the changing characters that nothing much changes in the city or the world. The characters’ few changes are telegraphed long, long in advance, so they are in effect described before they are demonstrated.