- All That Man Is
- by David Szalay
- Narrated by Huw Parmenter , Mark Meadows , Sean Barrett
- I listened to this on audible after a friend recommended it very highly.
The novel is a mapping out of the stages of life, illustrated by several parts focusing on different men in different European locations and of different age.
We start off with some young and careless men, travelling and largely sexually motivated ones, and end up with the lonely and ill old man who spends his time in the hospital, reflecting and observing the diminuishing of his life.
I enjoyed many of the stories, found them well written and difficult to fault. Much is shrewdly observed, well put and, for this middle-aged man, fascinating as reflection and mirror.
Yet, my biggest problem with this is that it seems to focus only on the negative side. These are all anti-heroes, almost devoid of morals, meaning in their life and without purpose. For me it’s missing some of the better parts that man is. The men here only seem happy when achieving sexual conquests or business success – even if this is hurting others.
In that the novel paints a bad picture of men and a bleak, depressing outlook, despite some fabulous writing and characterisation. It’s easy to point out flaws but much harder to show how to be a better man. One or two more inspiring stories might have made a difference for me.
Having said all that, the novel definitely engaged me throughout and stayed with me for days after.