Author Topic: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')  (Read 1580 times)

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Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« on: August 13, 2019, 05:31:55 PM »
She's the HOTTEST name in literature right now. Like, have you not read Normal People? What have you been doing with your life?!

I've only read Normal People and was ready to hate it or at least find it trite and overhyped (like David Nicholls' 'One Day') but I really enjoyed it. It was very readable, addictive even. The prose is clear and cleverly economical, the dialogue well-observed. I thought the Connell character was pretty impressively drawn. Rooney is a tad younger than me and maybe it helped to have done the same sort of stuff as the characters (go to uni during financial crash, alienating year abroad, etc.) but I was with the characters pretty much from the first page.

I'm not sure I'll rush to read her first novel as it seems like more of the same. But she seems pretty good. Overhyped still because she's basically the HOTTEST name in literature when there is better, deeper stuff out there, and I'd be interested to see her write something outside of what she knows, but still - she's pretty good.

That's my opinion of Sally Rooney. What's yours?

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Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2019, 07:27:38 PM »
Shit for cunts.

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2019, 09:14:20 PM »
I’ve just finished this - not my usual kind of thing at all but curiosity got the better of me.

I didn’t really think it was up to much, I’m afraid.  Rooney obviously has an eye for the intricacies of relationships and social hierarchies but a whole novel essentially based on relationship minutiae became a bit tedious and repetitive.  The prose is clear and economic in places, but in other places I found it plodding and almost Dan Brown-esque.  The dialogue was often pretty wooden, I thought.

At one point, at the height of what is supposed to be an intense and sexually charged scene, Connor says to Marianne.

“It's really nice to hear you say that. I'm going to switch the TV off, if that's OK."

The violent/cruel brother and mother felt really underdeveloped too. It could’ve done with a hell of a lot more context for it to make any real sense.  The brother was particularly poorly drawn, with seemingly only one character trait (he reminded me of Limmy’s ‘Bad Bastard’ sketch). 

I did want to see how it ended, which is more than I can say about One Day, but overall it just seems like there must surely dozens of contemporary novels more worthy of hype and attention than this?

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Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2019, 10:11:57 PM »
I quite liked it when I read it but it's kind of diminished in my imagination since, to the extent that it now annoys me. They're filming a BBC adaption in Trinity College, which is sure to be terrible.

Ultimately, I think Normal People is a perfectly serviceable novel, but Irish literature is an absolute goldmine at the moment, and Rooney is far from the best writer in the country at the moment, no matter what The Guardian says.

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2019, 09:01:46 AM »
I read one, the one with the couple who fall for a pair of friends or something. Was predisposed to liking it but ended up hating it. Couldn’t stand any of the characters. I will try something else by her some other time, maybe. Perhaps in a few books time.

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Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 12:02:12 PM »
Shit for cunts.

Have you read it?

Clatty, I know what you mean about the apparent blandness of the prose but it's a deliberate stylistic choice, not Dan Browneseque lack of imagination (though I've never read his stuff). I tend to agree with that New Yorker article:

The quality of thought eliminates the need for pen-twirling rhetorical flourishes. Rooney’s most devastating lines are often her most affectless. In “Conversations with Friends,” a party at Melissa and Nick’s is “full of music and people wearing long necklaces.” Read that sentence and you may never want to wear jewelry again.

Of course, you're within your rights to find the style objectionable but in the context of the rest of the novel, it works for me. Fair enough on the underdevelopment of other characters, overall the abusive behaviours rang true for me though.

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2019, 03:04:57 PM »
I started the one about the two students and the actor, but gave it up pretty quickly. Tedious shite. Think I'm too old. On the broader topic, I was impressed by Eimaar McBride's A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing - reminded me of James Kelman - but thought her next one was poor; second album syndrome.

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2019, 03:25:13 PM »
Have you read it?

Clatty, I know what you mean about the apparent blandness of the prose but it's a deliberate stylistic choice, not Dan Browneseque lack of imagination (though I've never read his stuff). I tend to agree with that New Yorker article:

Of course, you're within your rights to find the style objectionable but in the context of the rest of the novel, it works for me. Fair enough on the underdevelopment of other characters, overall the abusive behaviours rang true for me though.

Sorry, only just spotted this reply.  My Dan Brown comparison was a bit unfair - based on the two chapters of the Da Vinci Code I actually managed to read.  Rooney is clearly a much better writer, but I just found the prose rather lifeless and bland.  I tend to like things which have a stronger sense of atmosphere and place, and the settings and secondary characters in Normal People just felt perfunctory.

Something like ‘Lean on Pete’ by Willy Vlautin manages to do far more with a stylistic choice to write in a straightforward unadorned style, but Normal People didn’t do much for me.

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2019, 05:34:19 PM »
Ultimately, I think Normal People is a perfectly serviceable novel, but Irish literature is an absolute goldmine at the moment, and Rooney is far from the best writer in the country at the moment, no matter what The Guardian says.

Obviously this is a grotesquely stupid thing to say, but since I'm currently rooting around all the good Irish literature at the moment, I'm interested to know who you rate.

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Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2019, 09:31:36 PM »
Not stupid at all! At the moment, I'd say Eimear McBride, Mike McCormack and Kevin Breathnach.

buttgammon

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Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2019, 08:23:34 AM »
Not stupid at all! At the moment, I'd say Eimear McBride, Mike McCormack and Kevin Breathnach.

And Anna Burns (knew I was forgetting someone).

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2019, 09:23:53 AM »
I know a couple of these from the Being Various collection.

Good. Not as good as Sally Rooney though, are they?

Lisa McInerney - she's really good.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 09:59:30 AM by sweeper »

Re: Sally Rooney ('Normal People', 'Conversations with Friends')
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2019, 09:41:11 AM »
Who did The Spinning Heart and that interlinked one that was in last year's Booker longlist? Is he Irish?