The Knife of Never Letting Go : In praise of the sneaky books

Dear Patrick.

I’d tried with The Knife Of Never Letting Go before. I’d tried and got stuck within a few pages. Didn’t really kick into gear for me. I struggled with the language and the sheer denseness of what I was reading.

So I put it down. Stepped away. Put it back on the shelf.

But then I kept hearing good things about it. Not like a quiet comment of oh that book’s alright, but THIS BOOK IS GOOD and YOU SHOULD READ THIS and THIS BOOK IS BRILLIANT.

This annoyed me. I have an irrational fear of the book everyone loves. I think that this won’t be the same for me. I think that I won’t ever be able to translate the intensely personal joy of reading into something larger and more impersonal. I don’t ever want my reading experience to be lost in the crowd. For this reason I tend to stay away from the bold and the beautiful books of the moment. It’s irrational, I know, but it’s based on a fear that I might not love the book as much as I should or can or could.

But then there was you and The Knife Of Never Letting Go. And I need to apologise.

Because I misjudged this book – misjudged it hugely and awfully and horrendously and thank God I came back to it.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is really really good. I didn’t even work out what genre it was until it crept up on me and revealed itself, coy, shy, smug in the knowledge that I’d come in from work and dropped everything just to read some more of this awkward compelling brilliant narrative.

So now I’m half-way through The Ask and The Answer and I love it. I’m entrapped in a series I couldn’t stand first time round.

This was a moment when the sneaky books win. The books that hide their brilliance and make you work for it. The ones who start quietly, or softly, and you don’t figure out what’s happening until you’re two-thirds of the way through and you realise you’ve forgotten to eat and you don’t want to sleep because you need to know you just need to know what happens.

So thank you Patrick. Thank you for writing one of the most sneaky pieces of brilliance I’ve read. I’m loving every page of it. And somehow tonight I’ve got to apologise to my company because I’ll be reading it again and savouring every second.


I mean it.

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